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Judge affirms U.S. rule change to limit Central American refugees

By Clyde Hughes
Judge affirms U.S. rule change to limit Central American refugees
Migrants are seen July 13 at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas. Photo courtesy Rep. Doris Matsui/UPI | License Photo

July 24 (UPI) -- A federal judge ruled Wednesday in favor of a new rule by the Trump administration to restrict the number of Central American migrants seeking asylum.

The decision of U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly followed a lawsuit from advocacy groups Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

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The U.S. administration announced last week the proposed change, which forces migrants to apply for asylum in one of the countries through which they pass before reaching the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kelly said in his ruling the two plaintiffs failed to establish how they would be harmed by the rule.

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"We will continue to fight to ensure that this harmful rule does not unjustly impact children and adults," CAIR Coalition litigation director Claudia Cubas said.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the ruling a "victory."

"The court properly rejected the attempt of a few special interest groups to block a rule that discourages abuse of our asylum system," she said in a statement. "Tens of thousands of migrants making opportunistic asylum claims have not only exacerbated the crisis at our southern border but also have harmed genuine asylum seekers, who are forced to wait years for relief because our system is clogged with meritless claims."

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Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, called the decision a win for the "efforts to stop the crisis at our Southern border."

Attorney General William Barr said last week the change is an appropriate response to a crisis at the southern border.

"This rule is a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum," he said. "The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens."

The plaintiffs said they plan to keep fighting the rule in court.

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