BREAKING: Leahy Leads Senators In Filing Amicus Brief As Part Of Litigation Against President Trump's Illegal Asylum Ban

On Thursday night, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) led Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) in filing an amicus brief as part of O.A. v. Trump, a lawsuit filed by six asylum seekers in the D.C. District Court challenging the legality of President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation and rule effectively barring all asylum claims outside of ports of entry.

The senators’ core argument in their court filing is that President Trump’s executive action contravenes unambiguously clear provisions in statute protecting the right of migrants to apply for asylum anywhere along U.S. borders.  Leahy and the other senators describe how this was an unlawful attempt to override overwhelmingly bipartisan congressional intent – reaffirmed repeatedly, over decades – by executive fiat, and that it abandons the United States’ historic role as a refuge for those fleeing violence and persecution in the face of humanitarian crises in the Northern Triangle of Central America.

Senator Leahy said:  “President Trump’s asylum ban is illegal on its face, plain and simple.  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 file an application for 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.”      

Senator Wyden said:  “My parents fled the horrors of Nazi Germany for the safety and promise of the United States. Providing refuge for ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ is America’s legacy, and Donald Trump’s illegal asylum ban cannot wipe it away.”

Senator Whitehouse said:  “Congress put laws on the books to protect asylum-seekers, and the Founding Fathers put safeguards in the Constitution that ensure the president follows our laws.  No matter how inconvenient for his cruel, un-American immigration agenda, Donald Trump doesn’t have the authority to tear down asylum protections.”

Senator Blumenthal said:  "This policy is plainly illegal. Barring asylum seekers from receiving safety in the United States completely disregards our nation's values, national security, and laws. This needlessly cruel policy not only threatens the safety of refugees, it undermines our entire immigration system."

Senator Merkley said:  “The Trump Administration’s efforts to deter asylum seekers from our border—by putting them in child or family prisons and blocking them from declaring asylum—is un-American and inhumane. Many of these people are fleeing deadly violence in their home countries, and have the international right to seek asylum. Yet the president is making every effort to throw roadblocks in front of them. We cannot let this administration undermine our American values as a nation of freedom and hope.”

Senator Booker said:  “The law as it relates to asylum is incredibly clear – migrants can apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter through a port of entry or not. President Trump can’t change this by placing restrictions on who can claim asylum in the U.S. by executive fiat. That’s the responsibility of the legislative branch. Congress writes the laws, not the President.”

Senator Harris said:  “This Administration’s proclamation and rule cruelly targeting asylum seekers are a betrayal of well-established and unambiguous U.S. law. We should not punish those fleeing a threat of persecution. I’m proud to join with Senators Leahy, Wyden, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Merkley, and Booker in filing this amicus brief to ask the District Court to respect the intent of Congress in establishing our asylum process for those seeking humanitarian protection within our country’s borders.”

The full text of the senators’ court filing can be found here.

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