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Trump Wins Round in Immigrant Policy -- Asylum-Seekers Must Go Home

This is an emotional picture about the immigration policies of the united states
By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 10, 2019

The Trump administration won a significant victory for its immigration policy from an unexpected source -- the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan, the Ninth Circuit said the administration can make asylum seekers wait in Mexico for immigration proceedings while they challenge his policy in court. The appeals panel reversed a trial court order that would have kept them in the U.S., pending the litigation.

The decision doesn't mean President Trump has won his war on immigration, but it is major blow to migrants who are fleeing crime and violence in their own countries. It was significant in the big picture too, because the president is no friend of the Ninth Circuit.

'Terrible Decisions'

After Ninth Circuit judges ruled against his travel ban, Trump blasted the appeals court for its "terrible decisions." He called it the "much overturned Ninth Circuit" for "unprecedented judicial overreach." But that was two years ago. Last year, he called the the Ninth Circuit's record of reversals a "terrible, costly and dangerous disgrace." He called Judge Jon Tigar, who put a temporary hold on the administration's asylum plan, "an Obama judge."

Judge Richard Seeborg is not on the president's judicial elevation list either. Seeborg issued an order against the Migrant Protection Protocols, introduced on Jan. 29, 2019. The policy returns asylum-seekers to the border after they apply. So far, the government reportedly has returned 3,267 Central Americans fleeing their countries.

For them, the Ninth Circuit said, the "likelihood of harm is reduced somewhat" because Mexico has promised to honor international law and grant humanitarian status to the migrants.

'Uncritically Accepted'

In a concurring opinion, Judge William Fletcher said he strongly disagreed with the court's reasoning. He regretted that his colleagues "uncritically accepted" the government's arguments in the expedited proceeding.

"I am hopeful that the regular argument panel that will ultimately hear the appeal, with the benefit of full briefing and regularly scheduled argument, will be able to see the Government's arguments for what they are -- baseless arguments in support of an illegal policy that will, if sustained, require bona fide asylum applicants to wait in Mexico for years while their applications are adjudicated," he said.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrant Rights Project, believes the policy will be defeated eventually. However, he was concerned about the impact of the Ninth Circuit decision in the meantime. "Asylum seekers are being put at serious risk of harm every day that the forced return policy continues," he said.

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