With certain exceptions, the rule requires individuals to apply for and be denied asylum in another country in order to apply in the U.S. That means that migrants from Central American nations who travel through Mexico - who make up a significant portion of recent asylum seekers - will not be eligible for asylum in America unless they previously applied for asylum in Mexico or any other country they traversed and were turned down.
"The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country's legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger", said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants' Rights Project of the ACLU in a statement last week.
Tigar, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, has already barred less restrictive asylum policies from taking effect and could permanently block the new asylum policy.
If someone has been trafficked, if the country the migrant passed through did not sign one of the major global treaties that govern how refugees are managed (though most Western countries have signed them) or if an asylum-seeker sought protection in a country but was denied, then a migrant could still apply for US asylum. The day the rule went into effect, Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued the administration in order to block the new restrictions. It was Judge Kelly that ordered the Trump administration to restore Jim Acosta's access to the White House, not exactly a popular decision there.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly expressed "strong doubts" that plaintiffs can prove the Trump administration exceeded its authority in issuing the policy, NPR reported. In addition to rejecting the president's efforts to tighten asylum rules, courts have blocked a policy of separating children from adults at the Mexican border and have directed the administration to release minors from immigration detention without delay. Tigar's decision, which affects the entire country, overrides the earlier ruling.
Following the action by the San Francisco court, the rule will now be suspended pending further proceedings.
Taxin reported from Santa Ana, California, and Khalil reported from Washington.
Wednesday's conflicting rulings by judges on opposite coasts potentially sets the stage for a showdown in the appeals courts.
The rule would bar asylum applications from migrants who traveled through another country en route to the southern border unless they sought and were refused asylum in the transit country. The change is aimed at families traversing Mexico and Central America's "Northern Triangle" region of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
"It will put vulnerable families at risk", High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said earlier in the week, noting that many migrants do find "effective global protection" in the countries they travel through to get to the U.S. -Mexico border.
The judge said the evidence presented in the case about the dangers to migrants in Mexico was "stunning", and questioned the administration about its lack of information related to asylum protections in Guatemala. "There's not even mention of it in the rule".
"My ruling is not binding on him, just as his ruling is not binding on me", he told the Justice Department attorney.
The US government is introducing a new fast-track deportation process that will bypass immigration courts.