Beyond the Bricks: Week of 11/19

U.S. Federal Judge Blocks Ban on Asylum for Illegal Immigrants

U.S. federal judge Jon Tigar blocked a presidential order signed by President Trump earlier this month that prevented immigrants who entered the country illegally from being granted asylum. Tigar’s ruling will temporarily restrain the order until a court hears the case in December.

According to BBC News, Tigar said, "Whatever the scope of the president's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden."

The ruling came after a case was raised against Trump’s directive by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Trump responded by calling Tigar an “Obama judge,” a statement that led to a rebuke from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts has not publicly commented in the past on Trump’s remarks about federal judges, but he told the Associated Press on Wednesday that “we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

The asylum controversy arose in the wake of thousands of migrants from Central America continuing to make their way toward the U.S.-Mexico border. On Oct. 19, 2018 the U.S. temporarily closed the border crossing at San Ysidro, which BBC News described as “the busiest land border point of entry into the U.S.” About 110,000 people legally cross northward through San Ysidro in a regular day. The shutdown was to allow wire-topped barriers to be installed, and did not affect those traveling south into Mexico. The northbound traffic lanes have since been partially reopened.

Trump stated that “If we find that [immigration] gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” BBC News reported. He clarified that he was talking about the possibility of closing the border down completely, including halting trade with Mexico.

Opposition Figure Appointed as Ethiopian Electoral Board Leader

Earlier this week Birtukan Mideksa was sworn in as the leader of Ethiopia’s electoral board. Mideksa, a member of the opposition party and former federal judge, has criticized the Ethiopian government in the past. She was imprisoned in 2005 along with dozens of other opposition figures following a disputed election, and only recently returned to the country after spending seven years in exile in the U.S. According too BBC News, Mideksa said, “The Ethiopian people are ready to build the democratic system they want and to hold the government accountable.”

Mideksa’s appointment comes in the midst of a series of reforms being carried out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. In addition to welcoming Mideksa and other opposition members and groups back into the country, Abiy has made peace with Eritrea, released political prisoners and appointed many other women to high positions in public office since becoming prime minister in April.

New U.S. Government Report on Climate Change

The fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) was released by the U.S. government on Oct. 23, 2018. The document detailed the correlation between global climate change and the increasing severity of natural disasters in the U.S. The Associated Press reported that weather-related events have cost the country almost $400 billion dollars since 2015. The assessment itself asserted that “with continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”

The report is based on over 1,000 studies and included information from thirteen federal agencies, with a total of over 300 contributors. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was the lead agency in charge of producing NCA4, which came as the second volume to the Climate Science Special Report published in 2017. It focused both on the national and local impact of climate change across the country. The Associated Press said the report provided evidence that over 90 percent of global climate change has been caused by humans, stating that “there are no credible alternative human or natural explanations supported by the observational evidence.”