Friday, December 6, 2019

Court allows the Trump administration to temporarily reinstate “Remain in Mexico” policy

A federal appeals court in California took action Friday that would temporarily allow the Trump administration to return asylum seekers to Mexico.

The decision is in response to the administration’s emergency motion filing from Thursday asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco to stop a nationwide injunction that would bar the government from continuing its policy of forcing migrants to wait in Mexico. The government’s motion said the injunction issued Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg rested on “serious errors of law” and blocked an initiative “designed to address the dramatically escalating burdens of unauthorized migration.”

The administration had asked for an administrative stay that would take place immediately and remain in place while the court considers the issue of a longer stay while the appeals process plays out in a possibly months-long process. The ACLU had asked the court earlier Friday to deny the emergency request that would keep in place the administration’s policy.

In response to the judge’s decision Friday evening, Judy Rabinovitz, who argued the case for the ACLU, said, “this is just an interim step while the court considers the government’s stay request.” The organizations seeking to stop the policy of returning migrants to Mexico said in a brief earlier Friday that the government’s request should be denied and that there was not “sufficient urgency” to warrant an administrative stay.

In issuing a preliminary injunction temporarily stopping the policy, Seeborg had ordered that it go into effect Friday to give the administration time to appeal. Seeborg also ruled that all 11 migrants named in the lawsuit must be allowed to enter the U.S. within two days of the order taking effect.

While the order was not set to officially go into effect until Friday, an official with Mexico’s immigration agency told NBC News the government had not been returning newly arrived migrants to Mexico since the judge issued his decision on Monday. Critics of the policy say forcing migrants to wait in Mexico puts their lives in danger and violates their legal right to seek asylum in the U.S.

Trump administration attorneys have said the policy was meant to deter “baseless” asylum claims that were “overtaxing” the U.S. immigration system. Families seeking asylum had previously been allowed to stay in the U.S., either in detention or released into the country, while awaiting their court hearings.

NBC NEWS