The judge, Jon Tigar, was not initially slated to hear this case but reassigned it to himself because he noted it was similar to a case he heard in November.
A federal judge in California barred the Trump administration from enforcing new rules meant to curb the number of asylum applications at the southern border Wednesday night.
“The right to determine whether a particular group of applicants is categorically barred from eligibility for asylum is conferred on Congress,” U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar’s order reads. “Congress has empowered the attorney general to establish additional limitations and conditions by regulation, but only if such regulations are consistent with the existing immigration laws passed by Congress. This new rule is likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.”
The administration finalized a new asylum rule on July 16 providing that asylum-seekers must first apply for protection “in at least one third country through which they transited en route to the United States.” The rule provides several exceptions, including one for victims of human trafficking. New rules and regulations are subject by law to a public comment period before publication. The government invoked a work-around for that requirement, saying the order relates to the military and foreign affairs.
Tigar questioned whether countries like Mexico and Guatemala, states through which migrants often pass on their way to the U.S., are capable of accommodating large numbers of aliens. Failure to prove places like Mexico offer a “feasible alternative” for asylum-seekers renders the government’s action “arbitrary and capricious,” Tigar said.