A gavel sits on a desk inside the Court of Appeals at the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, which celebrated its official opening on Monday Jan. 14, 2013, in Denver. 
Photo by Brennan Linsley/AP

Federal judge: Trump ‘may not rewrite’ immigration laws through decree


Two days after the midterm elections, the Trump administration announced new rules in which Donald Trump claimed vast new powers to block asylum seekers. The president invoked broad national security powers, which appeared to exist outside any existing legal framework, in a highly provocative directive.

It was obvious to everyone that the litigation challenging the policy would be fierce. What we didn’t know was how quickly Trump’s policy would be blocked.

A federal judge barred the Trump administration on Monday from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally.

U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar issued a temporary restraining order after hearing arguments in San Francisco. The request was made by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which quickly sued after President Donald Trump issued the ban this month in response to the caravans of migrants that have started to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Tigar, an Obama nominee, wrote in his restraining order.

It’s the latest in a series of court failures for the Trump administration, especially on the issue of immigration. Judges have also rejected Trump’s executive order on “sanctuary cities” and his efforts to deny DACA protections to Dreamers, and in September, a federal court ordered the administration to end its “zero tolerance” policy that separated migrant parents and their children.

Similarly, Trump has also lost recent court fights over the Keystone XL Pipeline, press access to the White House, and the Emoluments Clause.

There’s a reason Republicans have scrambled to overhaul the federal judiciary and move the courts sharply to the right: it’s the branch of government that keeps preventing the Trump White House from ignoring existing laws.