Immigration Law

New suit filed challenging Trump's asylum requirements and Whitaker's appointment

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Two immigrants who were denied asylum because they entered the United States outside official checkpoints are among the plaintiffs in a new suit that was filed this week in Washington, D.C.

The suit is a second challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to deny asylum to immigrants who cross the border outside ports of entry.

The two immigrants who sued, a mother and her migrant son, contend that members of the MS-13 gang had threatened to kill them in Honduras.

Other plaintiffs are the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. They are represented pro bono by Hogan Lovells, which also filed suits challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban, opposing grant cuts to sanctuary cities, and challenging deportation of children who weren’t allowed to assert asylum claims after family reunification.

The Hogan Lovells suit differs from a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union because it includes a challenge to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s authority to issue the asylum policy.

The new suit contends Whitaker’s appointment violated the Attorney General Succession Act, which required the appointment of the deputy attorney general to the acting position. The suit also says Whitaker’s appointment violates the appointments clause because the acting attorney general position is a principal officer requiring the advice and consent of the Senate.

Trump announced on Friday that he plans to appoint former Attorney General William Barr to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned on Nov. 7.

The ACLU has obtained a nationwide injunction in its case, filed in San Francisco. The injunction requires the Trump administration to accept asylum claims made by immigrants who cross the Southern border outside ports of entry.

The new case is SMSR v. Trump.

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