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Federal judge issues partial block of Trump administration's third-country asylum rule

A federal judge ruled last week that asylum seekers who presented themselves at ports of entry before mid-July won’t be affected by the Trump administration’s ban on people who didn't seek asylum in another country before arriving in the United States.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant ruled the administration’s third-country rule doesn’t apply to people who applied for asylum before July 16.

The news was first reported by the Associated Press, which quoted Bashant as claiming the White House did an “immoral bait-and-switch” after it told would-be asylum seekers to wait before they applied in the United States. The administration’s metering policy, implemented last year, requires the majority of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico — sometimes for several months — before they apply for asylum.

The judge ordered a temporary halt to the policy as it affects all “non-Mexican asylum seekers who were unable to make a direct asylum claim at the U.S. [port of entry] before July 16, 2019 because of the U.S. Government’s metering policy.”

The case, Al Otro Lado v. Wolf, was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, and American Immigration Council.

In a statement issued after the ruling, Melissa Crow, the senior supervising attorney for the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project said, “While there is still a long road ahead, today’s ruling is an important one for the thousands of asylum seekers who followed the ‘rules’ and waited their turn, only to be told they were out of luck once the new ban was announced.”

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Reynaldo Leal/Texas Tribune

Asylum seekers wait on the Mexican side of the Brownsville/Gateway Bridge for the opportunity to apply for asylum.