Press Releases

ICYMI: Nadler, Lofgren & Leahy Lead Bicameral Amicus Brief in Litigation Against President Trump's Illegal Asylum Ban

... Seeking to preserve lower court decision striking down illegal ban

Washington, August 24, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) lead a bicameral amicus brief in O.A. v. Trump at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to preserve the D.C. District Court’s decision to strike down President Trump’s plainly illegal ban on all asylum claims outside of ports of entry.  The amicus brief was joined by other leading voices on immigration, asylum, and humanitarian issues including Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i).

The brief makes clear that – as the D.C. District Court concluded – President Trump’s executive action contravenes unambiguously clear provisions in statute protecting the rights of migrants to apply for asylum anywhere along U.S. borders.The brief describes how this executive action was an unlawful attempt to override overwhelmingly bipartisan congressional intent – reaffirmed repeatedly, over decades – by executive fiat, abandoning the United States’ historic role as a refuge for those fleeing violence and persecution.

"President Trump’s ban on asylum seekers who cross the border between ports of entry is a clear violation of the law," said Chairman Nadler. "Congress has repeatedly affirmed migrants’ right to apply for asylum regardless of where they entered the country. This ban is just the latest attempt by the President to deny asylum seekers the relief and due process they are entitled to under the law. This amicus brief is our reminder to President Trump that he cannot ignore the law to pursue his unlawful and inhumane political agenda."

"Our amicus brief is a simple reminder to President Trump that Congress writes the laws and his attempt to dismantle our nation’s asylum system is unconstitutional," said Chairwoman Lofgren. "The Refugee Act of 1980 guarantees that vulnerable men, women, and children are afforded a chance to present their claims for asylum, and the Trump Administration’s attempt to change that is a clear example of executive overreach.  For more than 40 years the United States has been the world’s leader in refugee resettlement, welcoming around three million people to our shores.  We must preserve our country’s long humanitarian traditions and uphold the rule of law."

"As the D.C. District Court rightly ruled, President Trump’s asylum ban is illegal on its face, plain and simple," said Senator Leahy. "President Trump cannot just undo clear provisions of the law with the stroke of his pen. That’s not how our democracy works.Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980 – which I proudly voted for as a young senator – Congress has repeatedly reaffirmed in statute its understanding that migrants have the right to apply for asylum anywhere along our borders.Preserving the right to seek asylum along our borders is a recognition of America’s role – indeed, America’s identity – as a haven for those fleeing the horrors of war, persecution, and gang violence.Our amicus brief is a clear and detailed reminder to President Trump that he cannot – and will not – erase our legacy and role as the humanitarian leader of the world."

The full text of the bicameral amicus brief can be found here.