The Government Shutdown Won’t Affect Trump Asylum Challenge

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A federal judge has ruled against the Justice Department, denying its request to pause all deadlines relating to a District of Columbia court case that is challenging the Trump administration’s asylum restrictions.

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation in November that barred migrants who entered the country illegally from claiming asylum. However, the court system has not been receptive to the new asylum rule. A judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the restrictions later that month, and a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in December also rejected the Trump administration’s bid to enforce it.

The losing streak continued in a ruling by U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss.

Attorneys with Justice Department on Wednesday asked the court to put all case deadlines on hold as the government continues to be under a shutdown. However, Moss on Thursday denied the request, writing that filings must remain in place because the challengers to the asylum restrictions view the case as related to human safety.

Moss noted in his order that there are plenty of employees still working in the immigration courts and within the Department of Homeland Security, despite the shutdown.

“The Court further notes that, according to government reports, 48% of employees from the Executive Office for Immigration Review are excepted ‘to process all immigration cases and appeals involving detained aliens,’ … and approximately 91% of Customs and Border Protection employees and 81% of Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees will be retained during a lapse in appropriations,” Moss wrote, quoting the administration’s shutdown staffing plans. (RELATED: Immigration Groups To Challenge Trump’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy)

The lawsuit is brought on from six individuals who were barred from claiming asylum because they entered the country illegally.

SUNLAND PARK, NM - OCTOBER 13: A U.S. Border Patrol agent keeps watch at the Hugs Not Walls event on the U.S.-Mexico border on October 13, 2018 in Sunland Park, New Mexico. More than 200 families with mixed immigration status living in the U.S. were allowed to reunify with relatives in Mexico for three minutes after Border Patrol briefly opened the border wall to allow the reunions. The event is approved by the U.S. government as families keep their feet on their respective sides of the border. The event is normally held in downtown El Paso but was moved to New Mexico due to new construction of an 18-foot border wall in El Paso. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent keeps watch at the Hugs Not Walls event on the U.S.-Mexico border on Oct. 13, 2018 in Sunland Park, New Mexico. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The issue of immigration is also behind the government shutdown, with Trump and congressional Democrats at odds over funding for a border wall. The president has made clear he is willing to ride a shutdown for as long as it takes until he receives a budget that allots enough funding for construction of a wall on the country’s southern border.

The next briefs will be due to the court by Jan. 4, 2019.

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