The Trump administration had been hoping to stem the flow of immigrants into the United States by forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico while their court cases played out. The so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy had been used to remove several hundred people from American soil. Now, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg has blocked the program.
The MPP policy had been an experimental one that started in January at the San Ysidro port of entry in California. The Department of Homeland Security had been seeking to expand the policy to other ports before the court stepped in and blocked it.
The ruling is a preliminary injunction that will stop the forced removals to Mexico, at least temporarily. Seeborg argued that the program may violate the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as the Administrative Procedures Act. However, Seeborg also claimed that Congress could create an MPP-style program.
The U.S. government could appeal the ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals. While the government has not formally indicated whether it will do so, an appeal seems likely given President Trump’s stance on immigration.
The White House has argued that asylum seekers are essentially carrying out a scam. Officials claim that asylum seekers are being coached to make false claims so that they are then released into the United States. However, pro-immigration parties point to widespread droughts, crime, and other issues across Latin America.
Once a migrant reaches United States soil, they have a legal right to seek asylum. Some migrants are held in detention centers while their case is heard. Others are simply released. Currently, bed space is highly limited and the government has come under fire for conditions at detention centers.