FEDERAL JUDGE STOPS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “REMAIN IN MEXICO” PROGRAM

Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.

The US government consists of 3 branches – an executive branch (the President and his administration), a legislative branch (the Congress), and a judicial branch (the courts).  Because of the anti-immigration policies of President Trump and his administration, and the general inability of Congress to reach agreement on immigration legislation, it has largely been left to the courts to protect immigrant rights.  This point was again evidenced on April 8 when Federal District Court Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against and stopping President Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols program (known as the “Remain in Mexico” program).

Since late January, pursuant to the “Remain in Mexico” program, the Trump administration had turned back various asylum seekers from Central America and required them to wait in Mexico while their cases were being processed.  In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigration advocacy groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America, challenging the legality of the “Remain in Mexico” program. One argument in the lawsuit was that the “Remain in Mexico” program was contrary to the longstanding US policy of “non-refoulement” – the legal term for not returning refugees or asylum seekers to a place where they could be subject to persecution – based on dangerous living conditions in Mexico.     

Judge Seeborg agreed with the plaintiffs in the litigation, stating “this injunction turns on the narrow issue of whether the MPP [the “Remain in Mexico” program] complies with the Administrative Procedures Act . . . The conclusion of this order is only that plaintiffs are likely to show it does not, because the statute [Department of Homeland Security] contends the MPP is designed to enforce does not apply to these circumstances, and even if it did, further procedural protections would be required to conform to the government’s acknowledged obligation to ensure aliens are not returned to unduly dangerous circumstances”.

According to Judge Seeborg’s ruling, “Defendants are hereby enjoined and restrained from continuing to implement or expand the “Migrant Protection Protocols” . . . Within 2 days of the effective date of this order [“This order shall take effect at 5:00 p.m., PST, April 12, 2012”], defendants shall permit the named individual plaintiffs to enter the United States”.   Subject to any appeal by the US government, Judge Seeborg’s ruling should restore the prior US policy on asylum, under which asylum seekers were admitted to the United States and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases were resolved.

Similar to the judicial blocking of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in the separation of parents and children, Judge Seeborg’s decision is an example of judicial protection of immigrant rights.  Litigation with qualified counsel is often the best option for immigrants being challenged by the US government. With its years of successful work for immigrants, the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates can be the qualified counsel that an immigrant needs to protect his or her rights.  If you are looking to achieve a similar favorable judicial result as did the plaintiffs in Judge Seeborg’s decision, please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at taher@kameli.com or 312-233-1000, for representation.