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Case Summary

O.A. v. Trump, which NIJC is currently litigating in collaboration with Human Rights First (HRF) and Williams & Connolly LLP in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, challenges the Trump administration’s November 2018 ban on access to asylum for anyone who enters the United States without being inspected at a port of entry. NIJC argues that the asylum statute makes it clear that any individual can seek asylum regardless of their location or manner of entry into the United States and that the Executive Branch lacks the authority to implement a policy that directly conflicts with the statute. In addition, the case presents a challenge to Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s authority to author the regulations in question because he was not made Attorney General in a manner consistent with the U.S. Constitution’s requirements that such officers be appointed on advice and consent from the Senate.

Some of these issues also are being litigated in district court in California by the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations.


About the plaintiffs

The plaintiffs in the case either entered the United States outside an official border point because they were turned away or forced to wait in unsafe conditions near inspection points, or because they did not realize that going to a port of entry was an option. The lead plaintiff, O.A., fled Honduras with his four-year-old daughter after he tried to help the police investigate the murder of his brother, only to be targeted himself for participating in that investigation.



November 9, 2018
President Trump issues Proclamation limiting access to asylum procedures. Later the same day, Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issue an Interim Final Rule implementing the changes.

November 20, 2018
NIJC, HRF, and Williams & Connolly file suit in the D.C. District Court challenging the regulation on behalf of six Honduran nationals.

December 17, 2018
Hearing date set on the request by O.A. plaintiffs that the implementation of the regulation be stopped.

December 27, 2018
Judge Randolph Moss denies motion from the Government to suspend proceedings during the government shutdown, reasoning that the case presented sufficient urgency to move forward. He also noted that, since most enforcement and removal operations remained in place during a shutdown, the conduct that Plaintiffs challenge remained at issue.

January 4, 2019
Plaintiffs move for summary judgment and ask to represent a class of non-citizen asylum seekers who enter the United States outside of a port of entry after November 9, 2018.

August 2, 2019
Judge Moss issues decision granting summary judgment and vacating the Rule as unlawful and a violation of the asylum statute.

October 11, 2019
United States government files an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

December 8, 2020
Court of appeals hears oral argument on case.

Relevant Documents

O.A. v. Trump: Complaint

O.A. v. Trump: Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

O.A. v. Trump: Summary of legal claims

O.A. v. Trump: Summary of plaintiffs

O.A. v. Trump: Judge Moss’s opinion granting summary judgment



Press release

Vox: A brief guide to the legal challenges against acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

CNN: Judge denies a DOJ request to delay deadlines in asylum case