U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction on Wednesday blocking the rule, which would require asylum-seekers to first pursue safe haven in a third country they had traveled through on their way to the United States.
Attorneys on behalf of the federal government rebutted that the rule encourages asylum seekers to apply for protection in other countries and that doing so later in the United States raises "questions about the validity and urgency of the alien's claim".
"This new Rule is likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws".
Additionally, he found that the decision to enact the measure was "arbitrary and capricious".
Tigar said the rule ignores requirements in Congressional laws that asylum seekers can be pushed back to a third country such as Mexico only if they would be safe there and have access to a "full and fair" asylum process.
In November 2018, Tigar blocked a Trump administration policy that prohibits asylum for people who cross the United States border without authorization, also deferring to Congress. Trump responded by attacking judges appointed by former President Barack Obama, like Tigar, and doubled down after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Robert reprimanded him for doing so. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said the restrictions curtail the right to seek asylum and run afoul of global legal standards.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights had challenged the policy in court last week.
The judge in that case has already barred less restrictive policies on asylum from taking effect and could act to block the new asylum policy.
Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services were seeing an injunction, which U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly denied, The Hill reported. Immigrant advocates also plan to challenge that policy in court.
Most crossing the Mexican border are from Central America, but it would apply to all nationalities except countries that border the U.S. Tigar's decision, which affects the entire country, overrides the earlier ruling.
Speaking to reporters at the White House before leaving on a trip to West Virginia, Trump said the numbers of migrants apprehended at the border "are way down" because Mexico has sent troops to the frontier "and they mean business".
Immigration is shaping up to be a focus of the presidential campaign again in 2020.
Taxin reported from Santa Ana, California, and Khalil reported from Washington. "Because that's the real deal".
Tigar's decision represents another setback for the administration in the courts.
It was not clear what steps the administration of President Donald Trump, a Republican, planned to take to fight the ruling. The fact that they continue on to the USA suggests they're not refugees, but rather more traditional migrants seeking better jobs or to unite with family. He reassigned the latest case to himself last week on the grounds that the two disputes are related. In other words, it would neither reduce the number of "meritless" claims filed by asylum-seekers nor would it slow the flow of immigrants to the U.S.
"I was not able to find in the rule, or anywhere in the administrative record, a scintilla of evidence about the adequacy of the asylum system in Guatemala", he said.
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