A man holds up a child who peeks into U.S. territory from Tijuana. Photo by Chris Stone

A federal judge struck down President Trump’s hardline rule that curtailed asylum applications by migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, a legal setback that follows a recent Supreme Court defeat over another immigration policy.

The administration failed to adhere to proper regulatory guidelines when it issued a fast-track rule requiring migrants who want asylum to first seek safe haven in a third country through which they traveled on their way to the United States, said U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee based in Washington, D.C.

The decision late Tuesday is another legal setback for the Trump administration, which has seen several major initiatives batted down by courts due to sloppiness in the policy-making process.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the administration failed to meet regulatory requirements in its bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children.

The asylum ruling will likely have limited effect in the near term, since the administration instituted a separate coronavirus-related policy in March that allows U.S. border authorities to rapidly deport migrants without standard legal processes, cutting off a pathway to request asylum.

The Trump administration issued the fast-track rule in July 2019 to block asylum seekers who pass through another country en route to the United States.

Shortly afterwards, California-based District Judge Jon Tigar issued a nationwide injunction blocking it, but the Supreme Court later stayed that injunction, pending the outcome of litigation.

In his 52-page opinion, Kelly said the Trump administration had failed to provide adequate time for public comment or show there was a good reason to bypass standard regulatory processes.

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