By Sandra G. Leon
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has stopped President Trump’s policy of sending asylum-seeking migrants back to Mexico while they wait for their asylum applications to be reviewed.
That policy, which started in January 2019, has seen over 60,000 refugees stopped from entering the US after applying for asylum. The policy was a change from the traditional process of releasing asylum seekers in the US pending their cases being decided.
President Trump instituted the “Remain in Mexico” policy in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees that including caravans of migrants from South and Central America during 2019. Most of the refugees that have returned to Mexico were not from that country but were forced to remain there in hopes of receiving asylum in the US.
The Court’s ruling only applies to cases in California and Arizona because they are the only border states within the Court’s jurisdiction. The ruling puts a temporary hold on the policy, not a full rejection of it, pending an imminent appeal to the Supreme Court by the Trump Administration.
Critics of the policy charge that it exposed asylum seekers to extreme danger in Mexico because most had no safe place to stay while waiting for their case to be decided. Human Rights First, an advocacy group that has criticized the policy, reported this year that more than 800 cases of rapes, kidnappings, torture, and other violent crimes against asylum seekers In Mexico were reported.
Another similar case still pending before the Ninth Circuit is a separate Trump policy that denies asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. border and forces them to first seek asylum in that last country. In most cases, it involved refugees that traveled through Mexico on the way to seek asylum in the US. That policy took effect in September and is being challenged in a separate lawsuit.