Updated Feb 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Federal court temporarily halts "Remain in Mexico" program, then grants emergency stay

Migrant wearing a cap with U.S. flagin front of the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/picture alliance via Getty Image

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's earlier injunction on Friday, temporarily stopping the Trump administration from enforcing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), only to be reinstated a couple of hours later, AP reports.

The state of play: After the court's initial ruling, the judges granted the Trump administration's request for an emergency stay just hours later, per The Washington Post. The Department of Justice argued there could be an influx of migrants who reach the border since 25,000 migrants have been ­waiting in Mexico, endangering national security.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of migrants seeking asylum have been forced to wait out their U.S. immigration court cases across the border in Mexico under the policy, also known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy. The Trump administration has long credited this program for the decline in border crossings following record highs last summer.

  • The court also upheld an injunction — already in place — blocking the administration from implementing a presidential proclamation that would disqualify from asylum any immigrant who crosses the southern border illegally.

What to watch: It's unclear what will happen to the nearly 60,000 migrants who have already been impacted by MPP.

  • Immigration officials have already begun relying on other programs that allow them to rapidly deport asylum seekers who passed through another country to get to the U.S., according to Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce. "This will very likely drastically increase that transition," Pierce tweeted.
  • While other factors have contributed to the decline in border crossings, "the timing couldn’t be much worse for the Administration," former ICE director John Sandweg told Axios in an email. "If this decision is going to trigger increased flows at the border, the coming months are the time of year when you would expect to see a spike in the numbers."

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Supreme Court allows Trump's full "Remain in Mexico" program to continue

President Trump at a rally in Phoenix in February. Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images

The Supreme Court gave the Trump administration another immigration win on Wednesday, blocking a federal injunction that would have halted the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — or "Remain in Mexico" policy — in California and Arizona.

Why it matters: The Trump administration sent military troops to parts of the border ahead of the decision in order to prepare for any surges of migrants crossing the border if MPP was halted, per the New York Times.

Pompeo announces U.S.-Mexico border will close to non-essential travel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a White House briefing Friday that the U.S.-Mexico border will close to all non-essential travel for at least the next 30 days.

The big picture: The news comes just days after President Trump announced a similar closure of the U.S.-Canada border, though both measures still allow trade and workers to cross. The announcement also follows an indefinite State Department warning for Americans to avoid all international travel.

Trump says U.S. and Canada will close border to "non-essential travel"

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. and Canada had reached a "mutual" decision to close their border to "non-essential traffic" in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What he's saying: "We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!"

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