Washington, DC – A federal judge declared that many of new restrictions that have made it more difficult for aliens to receive asylum on the basis of gang-relations or domestic violence are illegal.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan also ordered that those who have been deported due to the restrictions be returned to the U.S. by federal authorities, BuzzFeed News reported.
In the 107-page decision announced on Wednesday, Sullivan determined that President Donald Trump’s administration violated the Immigration and Naturalization Act, The National Law Journal reported.
“A general rule that effectively bars [asylum] claims based on certain categories of persecutors or claims related to certain kinds of violence is inconsistent with Congress’ intent to bring ‘United States refugee law into conformance with the [United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees],’” Sullivan wrote, according to BuzzFeed News.
“Many of these policies are inconsistent with the intent of Congress as articulated in the [Immigration and Naturalization Act]. And because it is the will of Congress—not the whims of the executive—that determines the standard for expedited removal, the court finds that those policies are unlawful,” he wrote.
The judge ordered the federal government “to return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported and to provide them with new credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws,” according to The National Law Journal.
The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the ruling, and labeled it “a defeat for the Trump administrations all-out assault on the rights of asylum seekers,” NBC News reported.
The heightened requirements for immigrants seeking asylum due to “credible fear” was put into place by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in June, according to the National Review.
“The vast majority of the current asylum claims are not valid,” Sessions said at the time. “Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems, even all serious problems, that people face every day all over the world.”
Sessions explained that, under the original policies, many migrants filed applications even though they knew they had no legitimate claim, because initiating the process allowed them to enter and remain in the U.S. while their claims were being processed.
In many cases, applicants remain in the country for years due to the overwhelming backlog of applications.
As many as 700,000 unprocessed asylum claims were pending when the policy change was enacted in June.