Tuesday a federal appeals court ruled the Trump administration can require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for court hearings while the immigration policy is challenged in court. The victory could prove only temporary as the appeals head upward in the chain of the judicial system.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision by a San Francisco judge that would have prevented asylum seekers from being returned to Mexico during the legal challenges.
The panel of judges said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had provenif the policy was halted it “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.”
The judges also found that the policy was not implemented in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act because it is not a policy covered by the act and is therefore not subject to following its procedures.
Some of the judges were critical of DHS’s implementation of the policy. The wrote their opinions in separate documentation, which left open the possibility of reviewing the decision at a later date.
Judge Paul Watford, an Obama nominee, wrote that he believes the administration’s treatment of the asylum-seekers is a violation of the U.S.’s obligation to protect those who could face persecution in their home countries.
“It seems fair to assume that at least some asylum seekers subjected to the [policy] will have a legitimate fear of persecution in Mexico,” Watford wrote.
“DHS has not, thus far, offered any rational explanation for this glaring deficiency in its procedures,” Watford wrote in his opinion, adding that he believes that pro-immigration groups could use the deficiency as a way to fight the procedure in court.
The case could end up at the US Supreme Court. However, allowing the policy to remain in effect until such a time allows the administration to ensure asylum claims are legitimate prior to allowing entry into the country.
The administration has said it plans to rapidly expand the policy, which could create issues in Mexican border cities that host the would-be immigrants while they wait for their court cases to be heard. Cases can take several years for a decision to be made.
The policy was challenged by 11 Central Americans and advocacy groups that argued it jeopardized asylum seekers by forcing them to stay in Mexico, where crime and drug violence are prevalent.
The U.S. has returned 3,267 Central American asylum seekers through three border cities, Mexico’s immigration agency said Monday.
Mexicans and children who travel alone are exempt from the policy.