The Trump administration violated its obligations under both U.S. and international law when it instituted a policy forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico to wait for their hearings in immigration court. The SPLC and its allies filed a federal lawsuit to end the policy.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that the "Remain in Mexico" policy is based upon a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that was never intended to apply to asylum seekers. It also claims that the Trump administration is violating its legal obligations by returning people to countries, including Mexico, where they risk persecution or torture.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 individual asylum seekers who were forcibly returned to Mexico, as well as six organizations that advocate on behalf of asylum seekers and other immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies joined the SPLC in filing the lawsuit.
On April 8, 2019, the district court granted a motion for a preliminary injunction, which was upheld by a ruling almost a year later by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Oct. 19, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the appellate court’s decision that held the Trump administration policy to be illegal.