Trump Can Force Asylum Applicants to Wait in Mexico, for Now

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration persuaded a federal appeals court to let border officials continue to force Central American asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their applications for entry to the U.S. are pending.

While Tuesday’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is temporary, a three-judge panel said the Department of Homeland Security will probably prevail in defending the policy that was announced in December and later challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A San Francisco judge who blocked the policy in April agreed with the ACLU that waylaying asylum seekers in Mexico for months would put them in peril. But the appeals panel cited “the Mexican government’s commitment to honor its international-law obligations and grant humanitarian status and work permits to individuals returned.”

The panel also said blocking the policy “takes off the table 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.”

“Asylum seekers are being put at serious risk of harm every day that the forced return policy continues," Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “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.”

The case is Innovation Law Lab v. Nielsen, 19-cv-00807, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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