Late last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers violates federal asylum law. Another policy was also ruled invalid: one disqualifying immigrants from asylum if they don’t enter the U.S. legally.
“In both cases, the court found that the administration ignored Congress,” said a lawyer for the ACLU, which represented the immigrants in both cases.
‘Remain in Mexico’ puts asylum seekers in danger
In December, a federal district court issued a nationwide injunction against the “remain in Mexico” policy, which forces asylum seekers who come to our southern border to wait in Mexico while their pleas for asylum are heard by U.S. immigration officials. That injunction was put on hold while the administration appealed to the 9th Circuit.
In a 2-1 vote, the 9th Circuit upheld the lower court’s reasoning but put its own injunction on hold to allow the administration to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The “remain in Mexico” policy is credited with reducing the number of asylum seekers entering the U.S. and may be responsible for a reduction in the overall number of people seeking asylum in the U.S.
However, it comes at significant cost. Innocent asylum seekers, who are fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries are being forced to wait for American assistance in a part of Mexico that is quite dangerous. Some asylum seekers have been kidnapped, raped or even killed after being told their asylum claims are not urgent enough to allow entry into the U.S.
The 9th Circuit ruled that U.S. asylum law prohibits the government from returning asylum seekers to third-party countries where they are likely to face danger.
According to the New York Times, human rights organizers in border cities like Tijuana and Matamoros scrambled to digest the opinion and prevent a panicked rush toward the U.S.
Since the 9th Circuit stayed its opinion pending appeal, the “remain in Mexico” policy will remain in place for now.
Asylum law allows people to bypass official entry
In a separate, unanimous opinion, the 9th Circuit held that the Trump administration’s attempt to bar asylum to anyone who enters the U.S. without authorization violates U.S. asylum law. The law states that people are allowed to seek asylum no matter how they entered the country.
This rule, too, had been enjoined by a lower court. The 9th Circuit upheld that injunction. The entry policy is no longer in force.
For more information about asylum in the U.S., contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people solve their immigration problems.