Judges Freeze Their Decision to Expand Asylum at Border

Migrants part of the Remain in Mexico policy wait at the entrance to the Paso del Norte In
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

Judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California have suspended their decision to knock down two policies that have dramatically cut the flow of migrants over the southern border.

The judges voted 2:1 to invalidate the two policies — an asylum reform and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — on Friday.

But the judges suspended their own decision after the Department of Justice pointed out that at least 25,000 migrants who are waiting in Mexico might rush for the border and overwhelm security procedures.

The Washington Post reported:

In its initial ruling Friday, the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 2 to 1 to reinstate a district court judge’s preliminary injunction that stopped MPP, saying that the policy violates federal law and “should be enjoined in its entirety.” The two judges in the majority agreed with immigration advocates who argued that pushing Central Americans back into Mexico could put asylum seekers in grave danger, as they were forced to wait in Mexican cities where they could continue to face persecution, in contravention of the long-held American ideal of offering sanctuary to the oppressed.

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, called the injunction “grave and reckless” and said the DHS is working with the Justice Department to appeal the ruling. He said border officials would apply “a range of other effective tools” to prevent migrants from crossing the border and being released into the United States. Officials said in court filings that they planned to file a petition in the case with the Supreme Court.

The MPP program has returned 65,000 migrants in Mexico before their long-delayed asylum pleas in court.

The policy minimizes the catch and release of migrants into the United States, where migrants can hide from enforcement agencies, earn money to pay off their cartel-affiliated coyotes, and then hire coyotes to transport their families into the United States. The MPP program has been so effective that it has helped to slash cross-border migration from 170,000 in May down to about 30,000 in January.

The judges also invalidated the administration’s policy of preventing asylum claims by migrants who are caught trying to sneak over the border. In effect, judges would allow migrants to apply for asylum once they are caught in the act of illegal migration. This asylum decision also would prevent border officials from regulating the daily number of asylum requests at the ports to match the number of cases that can be managed by asylum officials.

Congress has refused to legislate fixes for either problem. GOP legislators are reluctant to slow the migration of workers, renters, and consumers to business groups. At the same time, Democrats welcome the inflow of people who will likely vote Democrat once they are amnestied.



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