Justices allow 'Remain in Mexico' asylum policy to continue

The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to continue enforcing a policy that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for U.S. court hearings, despite lower court rulings that the policy probably is illegal

The next step for the administration is to file a formal appeal with the Supreme Court. But the justices may not even consider the appeal until the fall and, if the case is granted full review, arguments would not be held until early 2021.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that the asylum policy, known officially as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” probably is illegal under U.S. law to prevent sending people to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership in a particular social group.

“The Court of Appeals unequivocally declared this policy to be illegal. The Supreme Court should as well,'' said Judy Rabinovitz, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represents asylum-seekers and immigrant advocacy groups in the case. “Asylum-seekers face grave danger and irreversible harm every day this depraved policy remains in effect.”

The Justice Department said the high court's order restores “the government’s ability to manage the Southwest border and to work cooperatively with the Mexican government to address illegal immigration.”

Human Rights First, an advocacy group that opposes the policy, said it found more than 1,000 public reports of kidnappings, torture, rape and assaults of asylum-seekers returned to Mexico.

The administration said in court papers that more than 36,000 of the 60,000 cases had been resolved in immigration courts. Asylum has been granted in less than 1% of the cases that have been decided. Only 5% are represented by attorneys, many of whom are reluctant to visit clients in Mexico.

The administration had argued that thousands of immigrants would rush the border if the high court didn't step in.