Attorney General Challenges Federal Rule that Would Deny Humanitarian Protection to Most Central American Asylum-Seekers

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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today joined a multi-state legal challenge to a Trump Administration rule that prevents asylum-seekers from applying for humanitarian protection in the United States unless they have already sought asylum in a country they traveled through on their way to the U.S. The rule, if fully implemented, would effectively bar most asylum-seekers from Central American counties, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Attorney General Grewal and the other participating Attorneys General oppose the rule as an illegal ban on asylum-seekers, as economically harmful to the states, and as dangerous to families seeking protections at the U.S. border. With 5 percent of the country’s affirmative asylum grantees residing in New Jersey, the Garden State has the third highest number of asylum grantees after California and New York.

“The United States has a long, proud and bipartisan tradition of protecting those who seek refuge from persecution,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The Trump Administration has little regard for that tradition—or for the federal laws that protect asylum-seekers. But if the federal government won’t stand up for those protections, we will.”

In an amicus brief filed today with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, the Attorneys General ask the court to uphold a prior, nationwide injunction that halted enforcement of the Administration’s so-called “Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications” rule.

The nationwide injunction was issued last month by a U.S. District Court judge sitting in San Francisco. A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the Administration to move ahead with implementation, on a provisional basis, while litigation over the rule’s lawfulness continued. Today’s Ninth Circuit filing supports a lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that seeks to have the rule set aside.
In today’s brief aimed at continuing the nationwide injunction, the California-led coalition of Attorneys General argues that the new rule will harm states by increasing the number of would-be asylees entering the U.S. unlawfully, thereby denying those individuals a chance to work legally and contribute to state economies.

According to the brief, the new rule will ultimately trigger an increase in the total number of undocumented immigrants, and will force many asylum-seeking adults and children into dangerous, trauma-inducing circumstances in pursuit of the protections they seek.

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