A US federal judge has blocked an order issued by President Trump to deny the possibility of asylum to migrants crossing the southern border illegally.
US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued the temporary restraining order after hearing arguments by civil rights groups.
Trump signed the order earlier this month as thousands of migrants made their way towards the US border. He cited national interest concerns but was opposed by civil rights groups.
Migrants from across Central America have been travelling north for weeks towards the US-Mexico border.
They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
In the run-up to the US mid-term elections, President Trump said many of the migrants were criminals, called the caravan an invasion, and ordered troops to the border. He also repeatedly suggested it was politically motivated.
Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman and Justice Department spokesman Steven Stafford called the asylum system “broken” in a joint statement, noting their departments will continue “to defend” the policy.
They said the current system is “being abused by tens of thousands of meritless claims every year”, and supported Trump’s actions as “legitimate and well-reasoned”.
“It is absurd that a set of advocacy groups can be found to have standing to sue to stop the entire federal government from acting so that illegal al
Judge Tigar, in his ruling, said current legislation made it clear that any foreigner arriving in the US “whether or not at a designated port of arrival” could apply for asylum.
He said Trump’s proclamation on 9 November was an “extreme departure” from prior practice.
“Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Judge Tigar added. (BBC)