A federal appeals court decided 2-1 on Friday to block a Trump administration policy that requires asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts.
The panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against the 2019 “Remain in Mexico” policy, which has forced nearly 60,000 people to wait in Mexico for their applications to be processed and their cases to be heard.
The two judges in the majority, both appointed by Democrats, said uncontested evidence shows that Central American migrants face substantial harm, even death, in Mexico while they wait for decisions by U.S. immigration authorities.
Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, who was appointed by a Republican, dissented.
A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction against the policy in April, but a different three-judge 9th Circuit panel decided the following month to put a hold on the injunction order, meaning that the policy could be enforced.
Friday’s decision revived the injunction, which affects California and three other border states.
The Los Angeles Times reported last year that tens of thousands of migrants have been ordered to remain in Mexican cities that the United States’ own State Department considers some of the most dangerous in the world. Migrants have been attacked, sexually assaulted and robbed, and some have died while waiting, the Times found.
While attorneys representing asylum-seekers already in the Remain in Mexico pipeline celebrated the Friday ruling, they said it’s unlikely to ultimately help their clients since the Trump administration is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court, which has already ruled in its favor.
“No clue what it will mean, but no doubt the government will appeal,” said Jodi Goodwin, a Brownsville, Texas, immigration lawyer who represents some of the thousands of asylum-seekers camped across the border in Matamoros, Mexico. She said she was meeting with other advocates Friday, planning a response to the ruling.
By Maura Dolan and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times