A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking President Donald Trump's partial ban on asylum seekers who enter at the United States' southern border.
The restriction, issued by Trump in a proclamation on Nov. 9, would allow asylum applications only from immigrants who enter the United States at official entry points along the Mexican border.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled in a lawsuit filed by four refugee assistance organizations led by the Berkeley-based East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.
The judge wrote, "Plaintiffs have established an overwhelming likelihood that the new rule barring asylum is invalid."
Tigar had issued a temporary restraining order on Nov. 19, which halted the ban, and that order expired Wednesday.
Unless the government successfully appeals or obtains a stay, the preliminary injunction will remain in effect for at least several months until the case is resolved through either a full trial or a summary judgment ruling. Tigar scheduled a hearing on March 19 to discuss the next steps in the case.
Tigar said Trump's rule violates "the will of Congress" in a four-decades-old federal law that allows asylum applications from people who have entered the United States at any point, "whether or not at a designated port of entry."
The judge wrote that the arguments by both sides are nearly identical to those made last month, but said, "If anything, the inconsistency between the new regulation and the immigration laws has been stated more clearly.
"The harms to those seeking asylum are also even clearer, and correspondingly the public interest more plainly supports injunctive relief," the judge said.
On another track in the case, the U.S. Department of Justice last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the temporary restraining order while the case proceeds. The department filed that request after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declined to grant a stay. The high court had not acted as of this evening.
Spokespersons for the Justice Department were not immediately available for comment.