Donald Trump won a rare victory in the ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when the court blocked a lower court decision that halted the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. This means that the U.S. can continue to send certain asylum seekers to Mexico while they wait for their cases to be heard.
The agreement between the sovereign state of Mexico and the U.S. was negotiated late last year. But Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco said that the administration failed to take into account the safety of asylum seekers who would be in danger in Mexico and halted the policy.
The entire three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit put that ruling on hold, giving the plaintiffs and the government the chance to appeal.
The government is asking the 9th Circuit to keep the asylum policy while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts. It argued halting it would endanger the public.
Families seeking asylum are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court. The new policy began in January at the nation’s busiest border crossing in San Diego. More than 1,300 asylum-seekers have been to Mexico so far, according to the Mexican government.
“I haven’t heard of anyone who’s been sent back since the judge’s order on Monday,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Judy Rabinovitz said.
The Trump administration has said its stance on asylum is a response to a shortage of detention space for migrants and overwhelmed immigration officials as more migrants appear at the border each day.
The abuse of the asylum system is the real issue here.
Asylum law, conservatives point out, is intended to shield individuals from near-certain death or persecution on account of limited factors like religious or political affiliation — not poor living conditions and economic despair.
Most asylum applicants are ultimately rejected for having an insufficient or unfounded personalized fear of persecution, following a full hearing of their case before an asylum officer or immigration judge.
If Congress wants to expand the definition of “asylum” to include economic factors, they can do so. Until then, the argument that migrants “just want a better life” has no meaning. Billions of people living in poverty want a better life. Why are some who seek asylum in the U.S. because they showed up at the border more worthy than others who live thousands of miles away?
Until some kind of order is brought to the asylum process, the “Remain in Mexico” policy should be allowed to continue.