A federal judge on Monday issued a nationwide order barring the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants crossing the border unless they have already tried and failed to obtain asylum in another country along the way, an asylum policy that would effectively ban claims for most Central Americans fleeing persecution and poverty.
Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California reinstated a nationwide injunction preventing implementation of the new asylum policy in response to a federal appeals court ruling that had limited his original ruling’s scope to border states in the West. Judge Tigar made findings, as outlined by the appellate judges, that applying the injunction across the country was necessary to maintain a “uniform immigration policy” and prevent “uneven enforcement.” Under the previous ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the administration had been prohibited from applying the new asylum limitations in California and Arizona, but not in New Mexico and Texas.
“We just sent an email to people on the ground in Texas saying, ‘Make sure none of your clients are subjected to this asylum ban,’” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the lead lawyer on this case. “Because up to this morning, people were being denied asylum automatically if they traveled through another country.”
The latest ruling puts the asylum policy in the hands of the Supreme Court, which was already considering whether the Trump administration could enforce the policy while the case makes its way through the court system. The justices are expected to rule within the next few days.