A California Judge Halted the Trump Administration’s ‘Wait-in-Mexico’ Policy — But the Ninth Circuit Temporarily Blocked the Ruling

As reported by The Washington Post, Judge Richard Seeborg, a federal judge from San Francisco, ruled that the Trump Administration’s ‘Wait-in-Mexico’ policy for asylum-seekers violates key provisions of federal immigration law. In recent months, the Trump Administration has been forcing many asylum-seekers to return to Mexico while they were awaiting their court date.

However, on April 12th, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay of that decision. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Trump Administration will be allowed to resume the ‘Wait-in-Mexico’ policy for the time being, while the appeal of the judge’s decision is litigated. Civil liberties groups and the federal government have been ordered to submit their arguments to the Ninth Circuit.

The Decision: Mexico is Too Dangerous, Policy Violates Federal Law

Officially known as the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’, the Trump Administration’s ‘Wait-in-Mexico’ policy has reportedly resulted in more than 1,000 asylum-seekers being sent back to Mexico in the two months that it has been in place. In reviewing a lawsuit filed by civil liberties organizations,  Judge Richard Seeborg determined that the administration’s policy is in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Specifically, Judge Seeborg cited the dangerous conditions on the ground in Northern Mexico, where asylum-seekers were being sent while they were waiting for their case to be heard in U.S. courts. Judge Seeborg noted that federal law prohibits the administration from forcing asylum-seekers to stay in a country where their “life or freedom” is under threat. In a ruling that was set to take effect on the afternoon of April 12th, Judge Seeborg ordered an immediate halt to the policy.

The Stay: Government’s Emergency Motion Will Be Heard

At least on a short-term basis, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of the Trump Administration. The Ninth Circuit decision to block Judge Seeborg’s order keeps the Trump Administration’s ‘Wait-in-Mexico’ policy in place for now. In a two-paragraph ruling, the Ninth Circuit offered the federal government an opportunity to have its emergency motion heard. The government must now submit that motion by Wednesday, April 17th.

To be clear, the Ninth Circuit could still decide this case against the Trump Administration. As of now, the federal government will merely get a chance to submit its appeal before the judge’s temporary injunction actually goes into effect. Though, most observers believe this is a bad sign for the asylum-seekers. If the Ninth Circuit eventually rules against the administration on the ‘Wait-in-Mexico’ policy, this case may be headed to the Supreme Court.

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