A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that requires asylum seekers who attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in the U.S.
The 2-1 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated the policy conflicted with U.S. immigration law. The court blocked the Remain in Mexico policy, originally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, across the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
Around 59,000 people are currently a part of the program, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Thursday.
Top immigration officials in the Trump administration, including Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan and Acting Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, have defended the Remain in Mexico program as a corrective to the “catch and release” status quo, whereby which migrants were released back into the U.S. after being apprehended, and instructed to return for their asylum hearing months or, in some cases, years later. Officials have also said the policy works as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
However, in the court’s decision Judge William Fletcher criticized the policy as putting migrants’ well-being in danger.
“[The Migrant Protection Protocols have] had serious adverse consequences for the individual plaintiffs,” Fletcher wrote. “Plaintiffs presented evidence in the district court that they, as well as others returned to Mexico under the MPP, face targeted discrimination, physical violence, sexual assault, overwhelmed and corrupt law enforcement, lack of food and shelter, and practical obstacles to participation in court proceedings in the United States. The hardship and danger to individuals returned to Mexico under the MPP have been repeatedly confirmed by reliable news reports.”