9th Circuit ruling restores asylum rights for tens of thousands of people fleeing harm

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — A ruling today by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored asylum rights for tens of thousands of people fleeing violence and harm. The decision in Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf reinstated an injunction blocking implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols — also known as the Remain in Mexico policy. It appropriately reins in administration efforts that fly in the face of asylum law and American humanitarian values.

The ruling upheld a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which found the Migrant Protection Protocols to be unlawful. For over a year, the United States government has sent vulnerable asylum seekers to dangerous border cities in Mexico to await hearings on their asylum claims.

In response to the Remain in Mexico policy, CLINIC established the Estamos Unidos Asylum Project in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to advise asylum seekers about asylum and related humanitarian relief in the United States. Estamos Unidos Attorney Tania Guerrero described conditions in Juarez and other border cities. “Remain in Mexico has been a humanitarian nightmare and we are relieved to see it end. We are thankful that asylum seekers who have been waiting in Juarez in fear for their lives will be allowed to pursue their claims in the United States.”

The 9th Circuit panel said: the policy “has had serious adverse consequences for the individual plaintiffs. Plaintiffs presented evidence in the District Court that they, as well as others returned to Mexico under the MPP, face targeted discrimination, physical violence, sexual assault, overwhelmed and corrupt law enforcement, lack of food and shelter, and practical obstacles to participation in court proceedings in the United States.”

Guerrero said Remain in Mexico has had broad implications. “This policy has been a dark stain on the United States’ role as a world leader on refugee protection,” she added. “The 9th Circuit today correctly decided that this program was never authorized by Congress and that it contradicts the immigration statute.”

CLINIC is committed to advocating for an asylum system that protects the rights and dignity of individuals.