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As Asylum Ban Takes Effect, Rights Groups Sue Trump Over Effort to 'Inflict Maximal Cruelty on Vulnerable People'

"This is the Trump administration's most extreme run at an asylum ban yet. It clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand."

Immigrants wait at a temporary migrant shelter set up near the U.S.-Mexico border on November 18, 2018. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

A coalition of rights groups on Tuesday sued the Trump administration over a "patently unlawful" new rule that legal experts say effectively amounts to a total ban on asylum seekers.

Lee Gelernt, attorney with the ACLU, said in a statement that the rule—which took effect Tuesday—"clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand."

"This is the Trump administration's most extreme run at an asylum ban yet," Gelernt said.

The ACLU joined the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Southern Poverty Law Center in filing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The groups are demanding an immediate injunction against the asylum rule.

"This is the latest—and deeply dangerous—effort by the Trump administration to inflict maximal cruelty on vulnerable people fleeing desperate conditions for safety here," said CCR legal director Baher Azmy. "This rule also serves to project the administration's rejection of the fundamental, international post-war consensus that human rights matter. They still do, and this suit seeks to vindicate their value."

As Common Dreams reported Monday, the rule sparked immediate outrage from immigrant rights groups when it was unveiled this week, with advocates calling the restrictions "racist" and "outrageous."

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According to the Associated Press:

Under the rules, migrants who pass through another country on their way to the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum. Most of the immigrants arriving at the border this year pass through Mexico—including Central Americans, Africans, Cubans, and Haitians. That makes it all but impossible for them to get asylum. The rule also applies to children who have crossed the border alone.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) warned the Trump administration's rule could put "thousands of lives at risk."

"This is just the latest in a steady drumbeat of efforts by this administration to target and strip away the rights of asylum seekers and immigrants more broadly," said Monika Kalra Varma, LCCR executive director.

"While we can feel the terror in our communities with the threat of ICE raids and see the images of the unconscionable detention of children and families by Border Patrol," Varma said, "it is removal of the most basic asylum protections that will have the most egregious impact."

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