Federal Judge Blocks Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” Policy

Credit: Stellalevi

(Español) A federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration’s announced policy of forcing asylum-seekers to wait for their hearing dates in Mexico. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg  in San Francisco issued the order against the government, saying existing U.S. law does not allow the Department of Homeland Security to begin its so-called Migrant Protection Protocols MPP). The judge also stated the MPP did not provide sufficient safeguards to ensure the asylum-seeking migrants would not be returned to the place they fear or be subjected to harm, with potential to risk their lives or freedoms. The MPP was originally announced in December of 2018 by then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. According to the DHS, the MPP was meant as furthering the administration’s hardline stance against what they see as the ongoing crisis at the southern border. By limiting the asylum-seeker’s access to the interior of the United States, their hope was that would stymie the flow of migrants to the southern border.

The ruling comes from a challenge to the MPP filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, noting the MPP was a violation of the humanitarian protections offered to migrants under both American and international law. The week prior to the ruling, then secretary-Nielsen ordered officers of the Customs and Border Patrol to begin expanding enforcement of the MPP at the port of entries at San Ysidro and Calexico, California, and El Paso, Texas. Along with the ports, the expansion would have covered the length of the 2,000 mile southern border. While the judge struck down the policy, he did so with a delay of a week to give the government opportunity to appeal. The justice department plans to appeal the decision while a three-judge panel reviews te decision from the district judge to decide whether to grant a temporary stay of the decision.