Today, a federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration’s notorious policy that returned some asylum seekers to Mexico while they awaited processing, according to CNN. The idea was touted by Trump as a major fix to U.S. immigration policy, and a way to prevent migrants from crossing into the country.
The case was brought by a collection of immigrant advocacy groups, and listed 11 migrants as plaintiffs. According to the decision, the preliminary injunction will go into effect on April 12th.
The ruling comes as a blow amid a turbulent time for the Department of Homeland Security. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen resigned yesterday after disagreements with Trump over immigration policy.
The “Remain in Mexico” policy, officially called Migrant Protection Protocols, was implemented at the San Ysidro port of entry in January, and has since been expanded to Calexico and El Paso. About 400 people have been returned to Mexico under the policy, a DHS official told CNN. Before her resignation, Neilsen had asked that the policy be expanded along the border, to prevent more migrants from entering the country.
Judge Richard Seeborg found in his decision that the law the policy is based on wasn’t meant to allow asylum seekers to be returned to Mexico. He also found that the screening process for the policy was inadequate.
Seeborg wrote that his decision does not address “whether the MPP is a wise, intelligent, or humane policy, or whether it is the best approach for addressing the circumstances the executive branch contends constitute a crisis.” Instead, he was looking at whether the policy violates laws like the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, and whether it makes sure immigrants “are not returned to unduly dangerous circumstances.”
“Today’s victory is especially important amidst reports that the Trump administration is planning to move toward even more extreme immigration policies,” Southern Poverty Law Center senior supervising attorney Melissa Crow said in a statement. “The decision will prevent incredibly vulnerable individuals from being trapped in dangerous conditions in Mexico, but it’s only a step in a much larger fight.”
This is just one of many rulings that have impeded the administration’s immigration policies. The administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which was the impetus for separating families at the border, was also blocked by a federal judge.
“What [this decision] will mean is that nobody else can be sent to Mexico,” Judy Rabinovitz, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project told the Washington Post. “They can’t enforce this policy.”
Trump has claimed multiple times in recent weeks that asylum seekers are being “coached” by lawyers to lie about fearing for their lives in their home countries.
“The asylum program is a scam,” Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas over the weekend, according to CNN. “Some of the roughest people you have ever seen. People that look like they should be fighting for the UFC.”
“They read a little page given by lawyers that are all over the place—you know lawyers, they tell them what to say. You look at this guy, you say, wow, ‘that’s a tough cookie,’” he continued.