Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A federal judge blocked President Donald Trump's asylum ban, meaning Latin American migrants can seek refuge in the United States even if they enter illegally.
Earlier this month, Trump started a policy that barred asylum to anyone who enters the country illegally; they had to enter at a designated port.
Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California ruled the ban would do irreparable harm to immigrants and violates laws established in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"Whatever the scope of the president's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressively forbidden," Tigar said in his ruling. "Defendants' claims that the rule can somehow be harmonized with the INA are not persuasive. Failure to comply with entry requirements such as arriving at a designated port of entry should bear little, if any, weight in the asylum process."
The judge's decision is a victory for immigration advocates, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights and others.
The judge's order will be in effect until Dec. 19.
"This ban is illegal, will put people's lives in danger and raises the alarm about President Trump's disregard for separation of powers," ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said. "There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry. Congress has been clear on this point for decades."
The Trump administration criticized the ruling, saying "massive numbers" of migrants are "threatening to incapacitate our already overwhelmed immigration system."
"This temporary injunction is yet another example of activist judges imposing their open borders policy preferences, which are rejected by the overwhelming majority of the American people, and interfering with the executive branch's authority to administer the immigration system in a manner that ensures the nation's safety, security, and the rule of law," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "We will take all necessary action to defend the executive branch's lawful response to the crisis at our southern border."
The number of asylum applications United States increased from 5,000 in 2008 to 97,000 this year, fueled in large part by an increase in Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty. Trump has called caravans of migrants presently traveling to the United States through Mexico -- many displaced by violence in Honduras -- an "invasion" that included some criminals, gang members and "Middle Easterners."
Trump said his policy was based on national security grounds -- the same reasoning he used in attempting to implement a travel ban that was rejected by multiple federal courts. The Department of Justice cited the travel ban in its defense of the order seeking to bar asylum.