August 25, 2020

Wyden, Merkley Join Legal Brief Against Donald Trump’s Illegal Asylum Ban

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they have joined a legal brief seeking to preserve the D.C. District Court of Appeals’ decision to strike down Donald Trump’s plainly illegal ban on all asylum claims outside of ports of entry.

previous amicus brief Wyden and Merkley also joined helped the plaintiff asylum seekers convince the lower court in the case – O.A. v. Trump – to strike down Trump’s illegal ban.

“My parents fled Nazi Germany for the promise of safe harbor in America. Like them, refugees today are escaping dangerous, possibly deadly, persecution in their home countries when they exercise their right to seek asylum anywhere along our borders,” Wyden said. “For Donald Trump’s asylum ban, cruelty is the point. He has repeatedly proven he doesn’t care if something is morally wrong or illegal – all he cares about is himself and winning political points. This asylum ban was no different, and I urge the D.C. Court of Appeals to uphold the decision to strike down Trump’s unlawful asylum ban.”

The Trump administration’s efforts to deter asylum seekers from our border—by putting them in child or family prisons and blocking them from seeking asylum—is not only un-American and inhumane, it’s also illegal,” Merkley said. “Many of these people are fleeing deadly violence in their home countries, and have the legal right to seek asylum under both domestic and international laws. We cannot let this administration undermine our laws nor our American values as a nation of freedom and hope.”

Wyden and Merkley filed this amicus brief at the D.C. Circuit joined by other leading voices on immigration, asylum and humanitarian issues in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives: U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai‘i, as well as U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.

The brief made clear that – as the D.C. District Court concluded – Trump’s executive action contradicts unambiguously clear provisions in statute protecting the rights of migrants to apply for asylum anywhere along U.S. borders. The brief described 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.

The full text of the amicus brief is here.