Comment on Supreme Court Decision to Hear Remain in Mexico Challenge

October 19, 2020 9:45 am

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has agreed to review a Ninth Circuit decision that held illegal a Trump administration policy that sends asylum seekers to wait in Mexico in dangerous conditions as their claims for protection in the United States are considered.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and Southern Poverty Law Center are challenging the policy, which was blocked by a federal court in California last year, but has remained in effect due to court-ordered stays as the case is litigated.

Judy Rabinovitz, ACLU attorney and lead counsel in this lawsuit, had the following reaction to today’s Supreme Court action: “Asylum seekers face grave danger every day this illegal and depraved policy is in effect. The courts have repeatedly ruled against it, and the Supreme Court should as well.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 individual asylum seekers forcibly returned to Mexico, and organizational plaintiffs Innovation Law Lab, the Central American Resource Center of Northern California, Centro Legal de la Raza, the University of San Francisco School of Law Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, Al Otro Lado, and the Tahirih Justice Center.

“It has been over a year since a federal district court struck down the administration's illegal policy of forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico,” said CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey. “Yet thousands of families remain stranded in increasingly perilous conditions, where many have faced brutal violence and homelessness. We will continue the fight to stop this cruelty once and for all.”

The case cites violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as the United States’ duty under international human rights law not to return people to dangerous conditions.

“This only prolongs an immoral, unlawful policy that forces individuals to languish under dangerous conditions in Mexico in order to seek asylum in the United States,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project. “If there is a new administration come next year, ending this policy and the myriad of others the Trump administration has implemented to eviscerate the rights of people seeking asylum must be a top priority.”

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