Trump Asylum Policy Facing Judge 03/22 06:13
A U.S. judge in San Francisco will scrutinize the Trump administration's
policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico during a court hearing Friday to
help him decide whether to block the practice.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A U.S. judge in San Francisco will scrutinize the
Trump administration's policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico during a
court hearing Friday to help him decide whether to block the practice.
Civil rights groups have asked Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco to put
the asylum policy on hold while their lawsuit moves forward. Seeborg was not
expected to rule immediately.
The policy began in January at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego,
marking an unprecedented change to the U.S. asylum system . Families seeking
asylum are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in immigration
The administration later expanded the policy to the Calexico port of entry,
about 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of the San Ysidro crossing.
The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal
advocacy groups says the administration is violating U.S. law by failing to
adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.
It also accuses Homeland Security and immigration officials of depriving
migrants of their right to apply for asylum by making it difficult or
impossible to do so.
"Instead of being able to focus on preparing their cases, asylum seekers
forced to return to Mexico will have to focus on trying to survive," according
to the lawsuit filed in February by the American Civil Liberties Union, the
Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.
The Trump administration hopes that making asylum seekers wait in Mexico
will discourage weak claims and help reduce an immigration court backlog of
more than 800,000 cases.
The Justice Department said in court documents that the policy "responds to
a crisis of aliens, many of whom may have unmeritorious asylum claims,
overwhelming the executive's immigration-detention capacity, being released
into the U.S. to live for many years without establishing an entitlement to
relief, and often never appearing for immigration proceedings."
Border Patrol arrests, the most widely used gauge of illegal crossings, have
risen sharply over the last year but are relatively low in historical terms
after hitting a 46-year low in 2017.
A federal law allows the Homeland Security secretary to return immigrants to
Mexico at her discretion, Justice Department officials said in a court filing
this month urging Seeborg not to block the policy.
The civil rights groups said that law does not apply to asylum seekers who
cross the border illegally or arrive at an entry port without proper documents.
The policy followed months of delicate talks between the U.S. and Mexico.
Mexicans and children traveling alone are exempt from it.