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SPLC sues Trump administration for policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico

The SPLC sued the Trump administration today over a new policy that forces asylum seekers to return to Mexico and wait there while their cases are being considered.

The lawsuit cites violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the United States’ duty under international human rights law not to return people to countries where they risk persecution or torture.

“This is no longer just a war on asylum seekers, it’s a war on our system of laws,” said Melissa Crow, SPLC senior supervising attorney. “This misguided policy deprives vulnerable individuals of humanitarian protections that have been on the books for decades and puts their lives in jeopardy.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 individual asylum seekers who were forcibly returned to Mexico, as well as the organizational plaintiffs Innovation Law Lab, the Central American Resource Center of Northern California, Centro Legal de la Raza, the University of San Francisco School of Law Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, Al Otro Lado, and the Tahirih Justice Center. The organizations advocate on behalf of asylum seekers and other immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies joined the SPLC in filing the lawsuit.

The groups argue that the new policy fails to acknowledge the reality that current flows of migrants are the result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Central America. 

“The Trump administration is forcibly returning asylum seekers to danger in Mexico,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Once again, it is breaking the law in order to deter asylum seekers from seeking safety in the United States.”

The SPLC is also actively fighting other unlawful immigration practices of the Trump administration, including those that target asylum seekers. The SPLC has filed suit challenging the administration’s longstanding policy and practice of denying asylum seekers access to the asylum process at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, which has played a large part in creating the crisis at the border. The SPLC is also working with the ACLU to fight the asylum ban that has been blocked by a federal judge.