Federal judge issues preliminary injunction blocking Trump asylum restrictions at southern border

(July 24, 2019) (Breaking News) A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s latest move to widely restrict asylum for migrants coming to the southern border, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in California issued the preliminary injunction blocking the new asylum restrictions Wednesday afternoon, just hours after a hearing where he grilled a government attorney over the new sweeping change to asylum policy.

The policy, announced by the Trump administration last week, would broadly end asylum eligibility for migrants who pass through another country on their journey to the United States’ southern border with Mexico, but do not attempt to seek the protection in those other countries first.

Tigar noted in his order that Congress has already established a “safe third country” rule but that requires an agreement with that other country, as well as determinations about safety and other matters. The U.S. has such an agreement with Canada, but Mexico has said there is no such agreement and Guatemala’s high court blocked a possible agreement, the Associated Press has reported.

“Congress has ensured that the United States will remove an asylum applicant to a third country only if that country would be safe for the applicant and the country provides equivalent asylum protections to those offered here. The Rule provides none of these protections,” Tigar wrote.

“An injunction would vindicate the public’s interest — which our existing immigration laws clearly articulate — in ensuring that we do not deliver aliens into the hands of their persecutors,” Tigar wrote elsewhere in the order.

During a hearing Wednesday morning in San Francisco, Department of Justice lawyer Scott Stewart defended the new interim rule as “lawful” and “appropriately issued.” The government has said the rule is needed to “address the urgent, ongoing crisis” at the border.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights have challenged the policy, saying it violates domestic and international law and the right of migrants to seek asylum in the U.S.

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Daniella Silva