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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

US federal judge blocks Trump administration asylum ban

US President Donald Trump had banned asylum for immigrants on the southern border

Central American migrants, as part of the Central American caravan trying to reach the United States, wait to receive donated dinner in downtown Mexicali, Mexico. AP
Central American migrants, as part of the Central American caravan trying to reach the United States, wait to receive donated dinner in downtown Mexicali, Mexico. AP

A US federal judge has temporarily blocked an order by United States President Donald Trump that banned asylum for immigrants who enter the country illegally from Mexico.

US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order against the asylum policy, which was announced on November 9.

Mr Tigar's ruling will apply immediately and last until December 19 when there will be a hearing to consider a longer injunction.

The federal judge said Mr Trump's executive order went against immigration law.

"Whatever the scope of the president's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Mr Tigar wrote.

This month, Mr Trump said the immigration system was overwhelmed and said officials would only process asylum claims for migrants who present themselves at an official entry point.

The asylum ruling came as thousands of Central Americans, including a large number of children, are travelling in caravans towards the US border to escape violence and poverty at home. Some have already arrived at Tijuana, a Mexican city on the border with California.

Previous Trump administration immigration policies have been held up in the courts, particularly around sanctuary cities, which provide protection for undocumented migrants, and a travel ban on Muslim majority countries, which was said to breach freedom of religion.

The travel ban was later upheld by the US Supreme Court.