Court Blocks Illegal “Death to Asylum” Trump Rule

San Francisco, California (January 8, 2021) - Today the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction blocking a sweeping Trump administration rule that would gut protections for people fleeing persecution and torture. The injunction halts the new rule’s implementation nationwide ahead of its scheduled effective date of Monday, January 11, while the court considers a lawsuit brought by several immigrant rights groups.

The case, Pangea Legal Services II v. Barr, was filed by organizational plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, and Sidley Austin LLP.

The rule at issue was signed by Chad Wolf, who has been filling the role of Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security since November 2019. Today’s ruling from U.S. District Judge James Donato builds on multiple court decisions finding that Wolf lacks the legal authority to head his agency and promulgate regulations, and that this requires nullification of the rule.

“This monstrosity of a rule would erect nearly insurmountable obstacles to protection for people fleeing life-threatening violence,” said Jamie Crook, Director of Litigation at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, who argued the case on Thursday. “We are grateful that the court has taken swift action to stop this dangerous rule from taking effect – and placing courageous refugees in harm’s way.”

“This is the most far-reaching of the midnight asylum regulations unveiled in the Trump administration’s final days,” said Sabrineh Ardalan, Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program. “But try as it may, this administration cannot destroy our asylum system and rewrite our laws by executive fiat. We are confident that this rule will ultimately be struck down for good.”