A federal judge on April 8 blocked the Trump administration’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Mexico as they wait for an immigration court to hear their cases.
San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg granted a request on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups to halt the practice while their lawsuit moves forward, The Associated Press reported.
Seeborg, who was appointed to the district court in 2009 by former President Barack Obama, said President Donald Trump’s policy lacks sufficient protections to ensure migrants don’t face “undue risk to their lives or freedom” in Mexico.
The judge said he was holding off on enforcing his decision until April 12 to give the Trump administration a chance to ask an appeals court for a review.
Trump tweeted in responses to the judge’s ruling: “A 9th Circuit Judge just ruled that Mexico is too dangerous for migrants. So unfair to the U.S. OUT OF CONTROL!”
The Trump administration program was launched in January and was one of many policies aimed at slowing rising numbers of immigrants arriving at the southern border.
The Trump administration said last week it planned to expand the program of sending some migrants to wait out their U.S. court dates in Mexican border cities under a policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.
U.S. immigration court has a backlog of more than 800,000 cases.
Judge Seeborg said the Immigration and Nationalization Act does not authorize the government to return asylum seekers to Mexico the way the government has applied it.
“This is a great ruling,” said Judy Rabinovitz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which was one of the groups that brought the case. “This is what they were planning on implementing on a large scale. That would have been a complete game changer in the way our asylum system works.”