Judge extends order blocking Trump administration asylum restrictions

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Migrants wait in a plaza at the El Chapparal border crossing to place their names on a list to be allowed to cross the border into the U.S. to petition for asylum on November 28, 2018, in Tijuana, Mexico. The names of 5,000 migrants requesting asylum in the United States are on the list maintained at the border crossing, including around 2,5000 members of the ‘migrant caravan’ who mostly arrived over the past week. Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) normally process between 40 and 80 cases per day at the crossing leaving those who request asylum with wait times of over one month currently. Around 6,000 migrants from Central America have arrived in the city with the mayor of Tijuana declaring the situation a ‘humanitarian crisis’. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday extended an order that bars President Donald Trump’s asylum ban from going into effect.

At a hearing in California, the Department of Justice asked Judge Jon S. Tigar to reverse a ruling from last month and allow the asylum restrictions to take effect pending appeal.

Tigar declined to do so and instead extended his original injunction.

“The harms to those seeking asylum are also even clearer, and correspondingly the public interest more plainly supports injunctive relief. Not surprisingly then, the result of the present motion is the same: the Court again concludes that Plaintiffs have established an overwhelming likelihood that the new rule barring asylum is invalid,” the judge wrote. “Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.”

Tigar noted that a panel of judges — in an opinion penned by conservative Judge Jay Bybee of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — upheld his original injunction.

The administration’s policy, signed on November 9, temporarily bars migrants who illegally cross into the US through the southern border from seeking asylum outside of official ports of entry. Tigar blocked the policy — nationwide — in November, holding that it “irreconcilably conflicts” with immigration law.

A panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction in an opinion penned by Bybee, a George W. Bush nominee.

Even before Tigar’s ruling on Wednesday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the Supreme Court to greenlight the regulations pending appeal because he said they are “designed to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, where their claims can be processed in an orderly manner; deter unlawful dangerous border crossings; and reduce the backlog of a meritless asylum claims.”

The justices have yet to act on that request.

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