Friday, April 19, 2024

Judge halts Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction yesterday to stop the Trump administration’s policy of having some asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their case is under consideration.

District Judge Richard Seeborg wrote in his ruling that while it’s unclear how much risk asylum seekers are facing under the policy, “there is no real question that it includes the possibility of irreparable injury. The ruling will go into effect on Friday.

Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced late last year that the U.S. would force some asylum seekers to be sent to Mexico to wait out the duration of their immigration hearings. The administration recently announced that it would begin to expand the policy, informally known as the “Remain in Mexico” program.

The ruling is the latest blow to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Another federal judge on Friday had ruled against the administration’s policies on detaining asylum seekers while they awaited their appearances before an immigration judge, ordering that the asylum seekers be granted an immigration hearing within seven days of their request or be released.

Yesterday’s injunction was issued as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of asylum seekers who claim the policy puts them in danger. “Remain in Mexico leaves individuals and families fleeing persecution stranded on the other side of the border, when what they need and deserve under our laws is protection in America,” Archi Pyati, chief of policy for the Tahirih Justice Center, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a statement. 

Seeborg, who was nominated by President Obama, wrote in his ruling Monday that the asylum seekers have “presented uncontested evidence that they fled their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to escape extreme violence, including rape and death threats.” He also wrote that “they have continued to experience physical and verbal assaults, and live in fear of future violence, in Mexico.”

Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project — one of the plaintiffs in the case — said in a statement that the ruling shows that “the Trump administration cannot simply ignore our laws in order to accomplish its goal of preventing people from seeking asylum in the United States.”