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Immigration Law

Judge Blocks Ban on Asylum for Immigrants Waiting in Mexico

Bianca Bruno, Courthouse News Service, Nov. 19, 2019

"The federal government can’t employ bait-and-switch tactics to apply new restrictions on asylum to block migrants from making humanitarian claims at U.S. ports of entry after they waited for months in Mexico, a federal judge found Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant issued a 36-page order Tuesday enjoining immigration officials from using the so-called asylum ban to block migrants who returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico,” policy from making claims for asylum at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The putative class members in this case did exactly what the government told them to do: they did not make direct claims for asylum at a [port of entry] and instead returned to Mexico to wait for an opportunity to access the asylum process in the United States,” Bashant wrote.

“Now, the government is arguing that these class members never attempted to enter, entered, or arrived at a [port of entry] before July 16, 2019, and, therefore, the newly promulgated Asylum Ban is applicable to them. The court disagrees,” she added.

Both policies were issued this year by the Trump administration in an attempt to stem the flow of migrants attempting to enter the U.S. through both legal and illegal means.

Melissa Crow, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project senior supervising attorney, said in a statement their clients want the chance to have their asylum claims heard.

“Today’s ruling is an important one for the thousands of asylum seekers who followed the ‘rules’ and waited their turn, only to be told they were out of luck once the new ban was announced. These vulnerable individuals, many of whom waited for months to apply for asylum, simply want an opportunity to have the merits of their asylum cases heard,” Crow said."