A San Francisco-based federal judge on Monday restored a nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump’s move to ban asylum seekers who pass through another country en route to the United States.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued the order after considering new evidence presented in an ongoing lawsuit of the third-country asylum ban.
The decision to block the policy nationwide for the second time comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in August narrowed an earlier injunction by Tigar. The 9th Circuit’s decision kept the policy blocked in California and Arizona, but allowed it to be implemented in Texas and New Mexico.
The administration in July issued a new fast-track asylum regulation to prevent migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they first pass through another country and don’t apply for protection in that nation. The measure effectively cut off asylum protections for Central American migrants who travel to the U.S.-Mexico border from their home country, but has been hampered by the ongoing litigation.
Tigar, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, initially ruled to block the ban temporarily in July after he found the regulation was likely invalid because it conflicted with federal asylum laws. Tigar had also blocked an earlier Trump asylum ban that barred asylum seekers who cross the border between ports of entry.
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan characterized Monday’s order as another example of the “unprecedented judicial activism” the administration has encountered in attempting to implement its immigration agenda.
“Every single time that this administration comes up with what we believe is a legal rule or policy that we really believe that will address this crisis, we end up getting enjoined,” Morgan said at a White House briefing. “It’s very, very frustrating, but we’re just going to keep going.”
White House Press Stephanie Grisham called the ruling “a gift to human smugglers and traffickers“ in a scathing written statement Monday.
The Trump administration already has petitioned the Supreme Court to set aside the judge’s order and allow the policy to go into effect, and Grisham said Monday that the “request remains pending.”
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Lee Gelernt, hailed the decision, saying in a statement that the court “recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.”
Trump has moved aggressively to curb the flow of Central American migrants seeking to traverse Mexico and cross the United States’ southwestern border.
In June, he backed off a threat to level escalating duties on Mexican imports, instead striking a deal with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government whereby Mexico would deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the country’s southern border with Guatemala to restrain Central American migration.
That agreement appears to have yielded substantial results, with border arrests dropping to just 51,000 in August from a peak in May — a decrease of more than 60 percent, according to CBP figures published Monday and first reported by POLITICO.