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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Mexican officials and United States Border Patrol officers return a group of migrants to the Mexico side of the border in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 1:00 am

Judge reinstates nationwide halt on Trump asylum plan

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. – A U.S. judge in California on Monday reinstated a nationwide halt on the Trump administration's plan to prevent most migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled in Oakland that an injunction blocking the administration's policy from taking effect should apply nationwide.

Tigar blocked the policy in July after a lawsuit by groups that help asylum seekers. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals limited the impact of Tigar's injunction to states within the area overseen by the appeals court.

That meant the policy was blocked in the border states of California and Arizona but not in New Mexico and Texas.

In his ruling, Tigar stressed a “need to maintain uniform immigration policy” and found that nonprofit organizations such as Al Otro Lado don't know where asylum seekers who enter the U.S. will end up living and making their case to remain in the country.

Trump said he disagreed with the judge's ruling.

“I think it's very unfair that he does that,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for a trip to North Carolina. “I don't think it should be allowed.”

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, also criticized the ruling.

The courts have halted some of Trump's key policy shifts on immigration, including an earlier version of an asylum ban. The president has prevailed on several fronts after initial legal setbacks, for example, when the Supreme Court recently lifted a freeze on using Pentagon money to build border walls.

The rules issued by the Trump administration in July apply to most migrants who pass through another country before reaching the United States. They target tens of thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty who cross Mexico each month to seek asylum and would affect asylum seekers from Africa, Asia and South America who arrive regularly at the southern border.

U.S. law allows refugees to request asylum when they get to the U.S. regardless of how they arrive or cross. The crucial exception is for those who have come through a country considered to be “safe,” but the law is vague on how a country is determined to be safe.