Immigration and Citizenship

RELEASE: New Court Challenge Says Trump Anti-Asylum Rule “Unlawful, Unconstitutional, Invalid” 

WASHINGTON – Yesterdaythe Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC), together with co-counsel, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging a new Rule by the Trump Administration that would maksweeping and detrimental changes to U.S. asylum lawThe plaintiffs in the case are two nonprofits that provide legal services to immigrants and asylum seekers—the Tahirih Justice Center and Ayuda, Inc. The complaint calls the Rule “unlawful, unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and invalid in its entirety.”  

Read the complaint here. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of CAC as we help represent Tahirih and Ayuda in their fight against this unlawful and destructive anti-asylum Rule,” said Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth WydraPeople fleeing persecution, torture, gender-based violence, and other dangers deserve a fair process for seeking asylum in America, and this new Rule, if allowed to stand, would damage that process beyond recognition.” 

CAC Appellate Counsel Brian Frazelle continued: “In its headlong rush to be as cruel as possible toward people lawfully seeking asylum in our country, the Trump Administration violated a litany of federal laws by issuing this Rule, including the laws that govern who should lead the Department of Homeland Security when there is no Senate-confirmed SecretaryBecause Chad Wolf was illegally performing the role of Acting Secretary when he approved this Rule, the court should strike it down. Indeed, Wolf’s tenure as purported Acting Secretary is just one of countless examples of the Trump Administration unlawfully using “acting officials to avoid the constitutional requirement of Senate confirmation. 


To prevent abuses of executive power, the Constitution’s Framers adopted the Appointments Clause, which requires top federal officers to be confirmed by the Senate after presidential nomination. Although federal laws permit acting officials to carry out the duties of vacant offices under certain conditionsthose laws impose rigid constraints on who can serve (and for how long) in an acting capacity, in order to prevent circumvention of the Appointments Clause. And under those laws, Chad Wolf was never authorized to be Acting Secretary of Homeland SecurityHe therefore had no power to approve the new anti-asylum Rule. 



Complaint filed in Tahirih Justice Center and Ayuda, Inc. vGaynor, et al.  

“At Least 15 Trump Officials Do Not Hold Their Positions Lawfully,” Becca Damante, Just Security, September 17, 2020:  

“How the Trump Administration is Evading Senate Advice and Consent,” Brianne Gorod and Becca Damante, CAC Blog, April 10, 2020:  


Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at 


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