Adrees Latif | Reuters
Ana Maria, coming from El Salvador, carries her one-year-old son Mateo as they walk through a field with additional asylum-seeking migrants coming from Central America after they illegally crossed the Rio Grande river into the U.S. coming from Mexico, in Penitas, Texas, March 31, 2019.
A U.S. judge on Monday blocked the Trump administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico as they wait for an immigration court to hear their cases although the order won’t immediately go into effect.
Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco granted a request by civil liberties groups to halt the practice while their lawsuit moves forward. He put the decision on hold until Friday to give U.S. officials the chance to appeal.
The launch of the policy in January in San Diego at the nation’s busiest border crossing marked an unprecedented change to the U.S. asylum system, government officials as well as also asylum experts said. Families seeking asylum typically had been released inside U.S. with notices to appear in court.
President Donald Trump’s administration says the policy responds to a crisis at the southern border which has overwhelmed the ability of immigration officials to detain migrants. Growing numbers of families are fleeing poverty as well as also gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras as well as also El Salvador.
The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers coming from Central America as well as also legal advocacy groups says the Trump administration can be violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers which migrants face in Mexico.
which also accuses Homeland Security as well as also immigration officials of depriving migrants of their right to apply for asylum by creating which difficult or impossible for them to do so.
Under the fresh policy, asylum seekers are not guaranteed interpreters or lawyers as well as also don’t get to argue to a judge which they face the potential of persecution or torture if they are sent back to Mexico, Judy Rabinovitz, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said at a March court hearing.
Seeborg appeared skeptical of the lawsuit’s argument which the administration misapplied a U.S. law which allows the return of immigrants to Mexico. The ACLU as well as also additional groups which are suing say which law does not apply to asylum seekers who cross the border illegally or arrive at a border crossing without proper documents.
The judge also questioned the Justice Department’s argument which asylum seekers sent back to Mexico are not eligible for certain protections, such as a hearing before an immigration judge.
The administration hopes which creating asylum seekers wait in Mexico will discourage weak claims as well as also help reduce an immigration court backlog of more than 800,000 cases.
Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart said there can be a process to protect immigrants who could face harm in Mexico. All 11 plaintiffs inside lawsuit are represented by attorneys, as well as also 10 already have appeared for court proceedings, he said.
Border Patrol arrests, the most widely used gauge of illegal crossings, have risen sharply over the last year although are relatively low in historical terms after hitting a 46-year low in 2017.
The launch of the policy followed months of delicate talks between the U.S. as well as also Mexico. Mexicans as well as also children traveling alone are exempt coming from which.