May 7, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court allows Trump admin. to keep asylum seekers in Mexico

Central American migrants detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents on the border between El Paso, Texas

Central American migrants detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents on the border between El Paso, Texas. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

The San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the Trump administration can, at least for now, continue to enforce its policy that requires some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are being processed.

Why it matters: This is a significant victory for the administration, whose immigration policies have been facing constant legal challenges as it grapples with the surge of migrant families coming across the border. A federal judge last month blocked the "remain in Mexico" policy while it has been challenged in court. Tuesday's ruling means that the government can continue the policy while it appeals the April 8th ruling and the court considers broader issues in the case.

Details: The policy is being challenged by 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

  • The ACLU said in a statement:
"Asylum seekers are being put at serious risk of harm every day that the forced return policy continues. Notably, two of the three judges that heard this request found that there are serious legal problems with what the government is doing, so there is good reason to believe that ultimately this policy will be put to a halt."

What they're saying: Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, an appointee of former President Reagan, said the government will likely succeed.

  • He said the Department of Homeland Security could "suffer irreparable harm" if the court halts one of the "few congressionally authorized measures available to process the approximately 2,000 migrants who are currently arriving at the nation’s southern border on a daily basis."

The other two judges, appointed by Democratic presidents, voted to allow the policy to stay in effect. But they raised concerns about it.

Go deeper: Reality check: How the U.S. asylum process works

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