Groups in Federal Court to Challenge Trump’s Forced Return to Mexico Policy

March 22, 2019 1:45 pm

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SAN FRANCISCO — The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies were in federal court today seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the Trump administration’s new policy forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico and remain there while their cases are considered. The arguments were held before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg.

Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case, said, “Try as it may, the Trump administration cannot circumvent the law to stop people who are escaping danger and persecution from seeking asylum in the United States.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 individual asylum seekers 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.

“While the Trump administration continues to double down on this policy by expanding its implementation, the irreparable harm it causes is clear. Every moment it is in place, it jeopardizes the lives and well-being of vulnerable asylum seekers and makes it virtually impossible for them to present their cases in court. It is inhumane and unlawful,” said Melissa Crow, Southern Poverty Law Center senior supervising attorney.

The lawsuit 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 ill-conceived policy is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to slam the door on people fleeing horrific violence and persecution. Forcibly returning asylum seekers to danger in Mexico is as illegal as it is cruel. This policy endangers lives and makes a mockery of the asylum process, as underscored by its disastrous rollout over these past few weeks,” said Blaine Bookey, co-legal director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

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