Asylum and Refugee Law Immigration Litigation

DHS asylum rule enjoined by federal lawsuit in Pangea v. DHS

Supreme Court

US District Court Judge James Donato enjoined a sweeping federal regulation which would undercut the US asylum system on January 8, 2021. The ruling came in the case Pangea Legal Services v. US DHS, 3:20-cv-09253, which was combined with Immigration Equality v. US DHS.

The ruling enjoins the ruled titled Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal; Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear Review. This final rule was slated to go into effect on January 11, 2021. The injunction is in place pending further order of the court or review by a higher court.

This rule would have changed many aspects of asylum, which is a benefit under international and US law. The changes were primarily focused on restriction of access to asylum and making it easier for cases to be terminated and applicants removed from the US.

The Court noted that acting secretary Chad Wolf’s authority to hold his position has been successfully challenged in numerous courts. The Court likened the government’s position to “crashing the same car into a gate, hoping that someday it might break through” and even named the DOJ attorney, August Flentje, who was responsible for making those arguments for the government at the hearing.

This injunction is one of many legal setbacks that the Trump Administration has faced in four years of attempting to scale back US immigration in various contexts. Recently, the administration has been attempting to finalize rules that had been prepared before the end of Trump’s term. It is not clear that these last-ditch efforts will become law if they are enjoined and then abandoned by the incoming Biden Administration.