Hogan Lovells successfully challenges policy limiting asylum to those entering the United States through ports of entry

New York, 6 August 2019 – A federal court has ruled that refugees cannot be barred from seeking asylum because they entered the country between ports of entry.

Hogan Lovells filed the pro bono lawsuit on behalf of individuals adversely affected by the policy, as well as the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition (CAIR Coalition) and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). The case, S.M.S.R. et al. v. Trump, was consolidated with a similar case brought to the court by Human Rights First and the National Immigrant Justice Center, represented by Williams & Connolly.

In a ruling issued on Friday, Judge Moss on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the asylum rule in its entirety, finding that it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is the first court to issue a final decision striking down the rule. The court certified a class consisting of every individual subject to the rule, and appointed Hogan Lovells and Williams & Connolly as class counsel.

“This is a resounding win for individuals seeking asylum. In a detailed 77-page opinion - issued after months of briefing and multiple oral arguments - the court held that the asylum ban violated the plain text of the immigration laws,” said Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal.

Hogan Lovells senior associate Mitchell Reich, who argued the case for Hogan Lovells, added, “Thanks to the tireless work of our clients, this policy has been permanently blocked from taking effect, and individuals fleeing some of the most dangerous conditions in the world will once again be assured the protections our nation’s laws unambiguously afford them.”

“Today’s ruling is an important step in pushing back against the Trump Administration’s systemic efforts to bar asylum from those who need it the most,” said Claudia Cubas, Litigation Director of CAIR Coalition. “Asking for asylum is not against the law irrespective of how you cross our borders. We are grateful that with this strong decision, the court maintained the integrity of our asylum laws.”

“[The] ruling demonstrates that the Administration's attempt to deny access to asylum is illegal, plain and simple,” said Manoj Govindaiah of RAICES. “The court affirmed the long-standing belief that the United States is a country that follows the rule of law, and a place where those fleeing persecution have a chance to seek protection with due process and dignity.”

The Hogan Lovells team was led by Neal Katyal and Mitchell Reich, and included partners Craig Hoover, T. Clark Weymouth, and Justin Bernick, senior associates Thomas Schmidt, Elizabeth Hagerty, and Zachary Best, and associates Kaitlin Welborn and Mohan Warusha Hennadige.


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