San Francisco, Calif., Apr 9, 2019 / 11:30 am
Asylum seekers crossing the southern border may no longer have to return to Mexico while their cases are heard after a federal judge blocked the Department of Homeland Security’s Migrant Protection Protocols.
Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled April 9 that Homeland Security’s new protocols, announced in December 2018, did not adequately protect the safety of asylum applicants.
Shortly after the Migrant Protection Protocols were announced, the American Civil Liberties Union and immigration advocacy organizations filed a suit on behalf of 11 people seeking asylum in the United States from Central America.
The suit alleged that preventing the asylum seekers from staying in the United States is a violation of international law regarding humanitarian protections.
The protocols would have kept those seeking asylum in the United States in Mexico while their cases were being decided. Asylum seekers were to remain in Tijuana, near the border with the United States, and would be bussed to San Diego for court appearances.
The policy was intended to prevent asylum seekers from missing court appearances in favor of remaining in the United States illegally.
"Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in December.
“Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico. 'Catch and release' will be replaced with 'catch and return,'" she said.