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  • Migrants cross the Bravo river at the border line between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso in Texas, U.S., May 7, 2019.

    Migrants cross the Bravo river at the border line between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso in Texas, U.S., May 7, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 May 2019

Central American migrants will have to wait in Mexico before their asylum request is processed by the U.S. authorities.

San Francisco's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed President Donald Trump Wednesday to continue sending asylum seekers to Mexico while their cases are being resolved, a decision which reversed a previous ruling of the Northern District Judge Richard Seeborg, who ordered the blocking of that immigration policy on April 8.

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According to the 9th Circuit Court magistrates, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) managed to prove that the definitive blockade of the Trump administration's policy would cause an "irreparable harm" in so far as such blockade eliminates one of the few Congress-authorized measures to prosecute about 2,000 Latin American migrants who arrive at the U.S. southern border daily.

Omar Jadwat, the director of the Immigrant's Right project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), criticized the ruling and noted that two of the three judges found "serious legal problems with what the government is doing, so there is good reason to believe that ultimately this policy will be put to a halt."

The so-called Migration Protection Protocols, better known as President Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy, was announced by former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in December 2018 and began to be implemented in January.

"Aliens trying to trick 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. Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico," wrote Nielsen at the time.

Since January approximately 400 people have been sent to Mexico, according to data from the DHS, which is responsible for implementing this measure. ​​

On April 24, an ACLU lawyer Judy Rabinovitz filed a legal action on behalf of 11 asylum seekers who fear for their lives if sent to Mexico.

On that occasion, the 9th Circuit Appeals Court judges were worried about the fact that DHS agents do not directly ask asylum seekers if they are afraid of being at risk, a frequent omission which could be a law violation.

9th Circuit Court Judge Paul Watford, who expressed a critical opinion towards Trump's policy, recalled that the U.S. government has an obligation not to send applicants to a place where they may be persecuted.

He issued an opinion Tuesday saying that it is "reasonable to assume that at least some of the asylum seekers affected by the policy will have a legitimate fear of being persecuted in Mexico."

California federal justice, with a more progressive tendency than most courts in the rest of the country, has become a favorite for activists to file lawsuits against the Trump government, especially regarding immigration matters.

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