Trump: Federal Judge's Immigration Ruling 'So Unfair to the U.S.'

Susan Jones | April 9, 2019 | 6:40am EDT
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Members of the Central American caravan camp out in Mexico on their way north. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

( - "A 9th Circuit Judge just ruled that Mexico is too dangerous for migrants. So unfair to the U.S. OUT OF CONTROL!" President Donald Trump tweeted Monday night.

Federal District Judge Richard Seeborg, an Obama appointee, on Monday blocked the Trump administration's policy of holding Central Americans in Mexico until their asylum claims can be heard.

Under the so-called "Migrant Protection Protocols" (MPP), announced in January, the Homeland Security Department aimed to "end the exploitation of our generous immigration laws."

Citing the crisis at the border, DHS said "foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico -– illegally or without proper documentation -– may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay."

But Judge Seeborg said no, that can't happen, as he granted a preliminary injunction:

The Department of Homeland Security is "hereby enjoined and restrained from continuing to implement or expand the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” the judge ruled.

"Within 2 days of the effective date of this order, defendants shall permit the named individual plaintiffs to enter the United States. At defendants’ option, any named plaintiff appearing at the border for admission pursuant to this order may be detained or paroled, pending adjudication of his or her admission application. This order shall take effect at 5:00 p.m., PST, April 12, 2012."

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.

The Trump administration is expected to file an immediate appeal.

The ruling said the case presented two basic questions:

(1) does the Immigration and Nationalization Act authorize DHS to carry out the return policy of the MPP, and; (2) even assuming Congress has authorized such returns in general, does the MPP include sufficient safeguards to comply with DHS’s admitted legal obligation not to return any alien to a territory where his or her “life or freedom would be threatened"?

Judge Seeborg said the answer to both questions is "no."

He also said "nothing in this order obligates the government to release into the United States any alien who has not been legally admitted, pursuant to a fully-adjudicated asylum application or on some other basis. DHS retains full statutory authority to detain all aliens pending completion of either expedited or regular removal proceedings."

The problem is, the U.S. government is running out of space to detain the tens of thousands of Central Americans seeking asylum. Therefore, the government has no choice but to release many of them into the U.S. on a promise to appear for their immigration hearings.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies successfully sought the preliminary injunction that will take effect on Friday.

Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, argued the case, and had this reaction:

“The court strongly rejected the Trump administration’s unprecedented and illegal policy of forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico without hearing their claims. Try as it may, the Trump administration cannot simply ignore our laws in order to accomplish its goal of preventing people from seeking asylum in the United States.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 individual asylum seekers and various advocacy organizations.

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