WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, marking the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s disastrous “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces asylum seekers from all over the world to return to Mexico and remain there indefinitely pending the adjudication of their applications for asylum in the United States
“One year ago, when this policy was first implemented, we warned it would cause chaos and further erode our nation’s core values. It has done just that. This policy has trapped tens of thousands of vulnerable migrants across the border – making it nearly impossible for them to exercise their legal rights. What’s more, it has hidden this U.S. government-created humanitarian crisis from the sight of the American public.
“We will continue to fight this policy through the court system, but more needs to be done by our elected officials – and now. Congress must immediately end any funding that supports the implementation of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and launch a full investigation of this program which has already devastated so many lives.”
This policy is just one in a series of Trump administration policies aimed at eviscerating the legal rights of asylum seekers and creating the harshest conditions possible for them. It has the stated goal of deterring others through the suffering of migrants who have already made the journey.
Two weeks after the first migrant was returned under the policy on Jan. 29, 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies filed a lawsuit, Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, challenging the policy.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of individual asylum seekers forcibly returned to Mexico and the following organizations: Innovation Law Lab, Al Otro Lado, 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, and the Tahirih Justice Center.
In April 2019, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the policy. However, just one month later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the administration’s request to temporarily allow the policy to take effect while the government appeals the preliminary injunction. Last October, the court heard arguments in the challenge to the policy. The SPLC is currently awaiting their ruling.
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