A federal appeals court has temporarily prevented the Trump administration from requiring asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while U.S. immigration courts decide their cases.
A three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also put the brakes on another major change that denies asylum to immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally from Mexico.
Both policies are central to the administration’s asylum crackdown
The ruling is a setback for the Trump administration’s effort to curb asylum, even if it turns out to be temporary. The judges’ decision means the government cannot enforce the policies while legal challenges are argued.
The “Remain in Mexico” policy went into effect in January 2019, resulting in nearly 60,000 people being sent back while they wait for hearings in the U.S. While the court declared the policy invalid, the ruling only applies to California and Arizona, which are the only border states in its jurisdiction.
The other measure, which went into effect last September, has far-reaching consequences as it denies asylum to anyone passing through another country without seeking refuge there first. That policy is being challenged in a separate lawsuit. The administration claims it has the right to enforce the policies without Congressional approval.
Opponents say the policies are discriminatory
The American Civil Liberties Union and other opponents say the administration violated U.S. law as well as international treaties by turning away people who are vulnerable because of their race, religion, nationality or political beliefs.
In addition, opponents say the policies place asylum-seekers in danger in Mexican border cities while they wait for their hearings. The advocacy group, Human Rights First, reports as of January, more than 800 cases of rape, kidnapping, torture and other violent crimes have been reported against individuals sent back to Mexico.