While the 9th Circuit Court has blocked the Migrant Protection Protocols from being enforced in California and Arizona, it didn’t enact a nationwide injunction against it.
A federal appeals court has blocked President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy in two states along the U.S. border.
National Public Radio Reports that the injunction was emplaced Wednesday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Beginning next week, the Trump administration will have to cease its policy of making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for U.S.-based immigration officials to process their claims.
However, the ruling will only apply to migrants apply or have applied for asylum in states covered by the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction: in this case, California and Arizona.
According to NPR, the appeals panel’s decision “comes less than a week after” the program was briefly ordered blocked, then had the block released.
Regardless, the 9th Circuit said it remains “very clear” that the Migrant Protection Protocols—as “Remain in Mexico” is officially known—may be illegal. “It’s equally clear,” the court said, “that the MPP is causing extreme and irreversible harm to plaintiffs.”
“Under the MPP, an asylum officer screening asylum seekers is not allowed to ask whether they fear that their ‘life or freedom would be threatened’ upon being returned to Mexico,” 9th Circuit Judges William A. Fletcher and Richard A. Paez opined. “The MPP requires asylum seekers—untutored in asylum law—to volunteer that they fear being returned to Mexico, even though they are not told that the existence of such fear could protect them from being returned.”
The judges observed that immigration officials often take extraordinary steps to ensure that asylum-seekers—even those with legitimate claims—remain ignorant of the ways in which their applications are processed.
“Uncontradicted evidence in the record shows not only that asylum officers implementing the MPP do not ask whether asylum seekers fear returning to Mexico,” the judges wrote, “it also shows that that officers actively prevent or discourage applicants from expressing such a fear, and that they ignore applicants who succeed in doing so.”
But the 9th Circuit hesitated to issue a nation-wide or pan-regional injunction, in part because such injunctions is “a matter of intense and active scrutiny.” In a potential bid to avoid unnecessary interference, the judges will allow the program to continue unimpeded “outside the geographical boundaries of the Ninth Circuit.”
The panel explained its rationale for not implementing the order until next Monday, saying they’ve opted to wait and see “if the Supreme Court has not in the meantime acted to reverse or otherwise modify our decision.”
NPR notes that, since the Migrant Protection Protocols went into effect early last year, fewer than 1% of the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers told to remain in Mexico have been granted admission into the United States.
Mark Morgan, acting director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said programs like the MPP allow the nation to better enforce the law while ensuring the preservation of national security.
“This allows us to more effectively administer our immigration laws, including assisting legitimate asylum-seekers while also simultaneously ensuring aliens with nonmeritorious or even fraudulent claims no longer have the incentive to make the journey,” Morgan said during a press conference Thursday.
“The latest MPP ruling could easily drive yet another surge,” he added, “not only making our jobs harder to protect the southwest border and safeguard this country, but also it’s just going to reenergize the pull factors of illegal immigration, putting everyone once again at risk.”