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Federal judge reinstates nationwide injunction on asylum restriction

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Aaron Levy-Wolins/SFBay
Demonstrators protest during the Playdate Protest at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

A federal judge in Oakland on Monday reinstated a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking a new government rule that would prevent almost all migrants at the southern U.S. border from applying for asylum. The rule by the administration of President Donald Trump would prohibit migrants who passed through another country from seeking U.S. asylum unless they were denied asylum in the transit country.

It would have the effect of barring almost all asylum applications from Central Americans. U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar originally issued the injunction in July, ruling in a lawsuit filed by four refugee assistance groups led by the Berkeley-based East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.

But in August, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel allowed most of the injunction but restricted it to 9th Circuit territory, which includes California and Arizona. The panel said there wasn’t enough evidence thus far that the four organizations were affected nationwide.

After reviewing more evidence, Tigar ruled Monday that the broader order was justified because the organizations had shown they would suffer nationwide harm. He also said the order “is supported by the need to maintain uniform immigration policy” and avoid administrative confusion.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who represented the groups, said:

“The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.”

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

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