PHOENIX — A U.S. judge on Friday blocked the Trump administration’s most sweeping set of asylum restrictions less than two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The rules had been set to take effect Monday. The court order has limited immediate impact because the government has largely suspended asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border during the coronavirus pandemic, citing public health concerns.
Still, letting the rules take effect would have been felt by some who can still claim asylum and make it significantly more difficult for all asylum-seekers once pandemic-related measures are lifted.
President Donald Trump’s administration argued that the measures were an appropriate response to a system rife with abuse and overwhelmed with unworthy claims.
They sought to redefine how people qualify for asylum and similar forms of humanitarian protection if they face persecution at home. The restrictions would have broadened the grounds for a judge to deem asylum applications “frivolous” and prohibit applicants from ever winning protections