(Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union sued U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday, challenging a sweeping new rule that would bar almost all migrants from seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States.
The rule, which took effect on Tuesday, would require asylum seekers to have first applied for asylum and been rejected in one of the countries they travelled through before becoming eligible to apply to the United States.
“This is the Trump administration’s most extreme run at an asylum ban yet. It clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said in a statement.
The proposed change represented the latest effort by the Trump administration to crack down on immigration, the issue that helped propel Trump to the White House in the 2016 election and one already figuring prominently in the 2020 campaign.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, named Attorney General William Barr and a host of U.S. immigration officials as defendants.
The pro-immigrant groups East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles were named as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was filed on the same day that Mexico and the United States said their chief diplomats would meet in Mexico City on Sunday.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will to discuss migration, trade and a development plan for Central America, Ebrard said on Twitter. Pompeo is stopping in Mexico as part of a larger tour of Latin America including Argentina, Ecuador and El Salvador.
A surge of Central American migrants passing through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States has led to both friction and cooperation between the United States and Mexico, which share a 2,000-mile (3,000-km) border and are leading trade partners of each other.
(Reporting by Delphine Schrank, Diego Ore and Rebekah F Ward in Mexico City, Kristina Cooke in San Francisco and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Frank McGurty, Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)