A federal judge in Oakland on Monday blocked a policy banning asylum for thousands of people who cross through Mexico to reach the southern border.
Judge Jon Tigar initially blocked the policy from being implemented across the border in July. Soon after, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the policy could only be blocked in the areas it oversaw, such as California and Arizona. As a result, US Citizenship and Immigration Services officials restarted the policy in New Mexico and Texas. Advocates, however, pressed Tigar to once again issue a nationwide injunction, and on Monday, he did that.
“The court continues to recognize the gravity of this situation and the reality that asylum-seekers face grave danger along the entire southern border,” said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney who argued the case in front of Tigar.
Tigar’s order means the Department of Homeland Security must suspend implementation of the policy, which barred asylum for anyone who crosses through a third country but does not apply there for protection before reaching the US.
Hundreds of thousands of Central Americans and others were expected to have been affected by restrictions that went into place in July. The majority of the 688,375 immigrants apprehended at the southern border this year have traveled from Central America through Mexico.
Soon after the policy went into effect along the border in New Mexico and Texas, immigration officials issued incorrect guidance to asylum officers. Just days later, the officials rushed to correct the guidance to officers who could have mistakenly applied it.
In recent weeks, some asylum officers have been distressed implementing the policy, crying after being forced to implement it, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
“We can return to adjudicating cases on their merits instead of turning away applicants based on a regulation in direct contravention of US law,” one asylum officer told BuzzFeed News after Tigar’s order was issued.