As was widely expected, a federal judge in San Francisco (the same court that stymied the administration’s travel ban) has temporarily blocked the Trump Administration’s executive order that would have temporarily restricted migrants’ ability to claim asylum anywhere other than a designated border checkpoint.
According to Buzzfeed, Judge Jon Tigar ruled Monday that the administration’s decision “irreconcilably conflicts with” the Immigration and Nationality Act, which stipulates that anyone entering the US can apply for asylum regardless of where they entered. Trump’s order demanded that, for the time being, migrants present themselves as a border checkpoint for “orderly processing”. Anybody who didn’t comply would be denied entry at other points along the border, according to CNN. The order directed administration officials to determine within 90 days whether the order should be made permanent.
“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said Tigar in a ruling that blocked the policy for one month.
Tigar’s ruling comes just 12 hours after he heard arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union, which requested the order, and the Department of Justice, which maintained that the policy was necessary because a crush of asylum-seekers on the southern border had created a crisis. Tigar, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, explained in his ruling that asylum-seekers would be at an “increased risk of violence and other harms at the border, and many will be deprived of meritorious asylum claims.”
The government’s claims in support of the expansive policy, he said, did not outweigh “the need to avoid these harms.”
The judge asked several questions about the policy during the brief hearing on Monday, including whether evidence supported the need for such a policy.
Tigar raised a number of questions during Monday’s hearing about the reasons the administration has offered for the new policy. He asked whether the new restriction on where asylum-seekers must cross the border undermined the Immigration and Nationality Act, which sets the conditions for asylum. He also questioned whether the underlying evidence supported the need for such a policy, and wondered whether the policy would affect negotiations with Mexico over allowing individuals to gain asylum there.
The parties involved the challenge (which includes civil rights groups like the ACLU, which sued to block the order) will meet again in San Francisco on Dec. 19 as the judge weighs whether to make his block of the injunction permanent. Trump said he was restricting asylum to protect the US from caravans of migrants heading toward the southern border from Central America. But already, some of the troops Trump sent to the border to help reinforce the border patrol are beginning to head home.