A federal appeals court blocked one of President Donald Trump’s key immigration policies on Wednesday.
A three-judge panel on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a halt on the “Remain in Mexico” policy for two border states in its jurisdiction, Arizona and California, the Washington Times reported. The policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are pending, can continue in other states.
Court blocks Trump immigration policy
The Trump administration created the policy as part of an effort to crack down on a massive influx of asylum seekers at the border. The White House has said that many asylum claims are fraudulent and that longstanding loopholes like “catch and release” enable abuse.
The “Remain in Mexico” policy, which has returned 60,000 migrants to Mexico, has been credited by the administration with cutting down on immigration levels, Fox News reported.
But liberal activist groups — and sympathetic judges — argue that the policy is inhumane and somehow illegal. A Ninth Circuit panel echoed that sentiment in its decision on Wednesday, ordering that Arizona and California must not enforce the policy beginning on March 12 — unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the AP reported.
Judges William Fletcher and Richard Paez, both Clinton appointees, said that the policy is illegal and asserted that there is “extreme danger to asylum seekers who are returned to Mexico.” The third judge on the panel, President George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Ferdinand Fernandez, disagreed.
In a partial win for Trump, the Ninth Circuit, which covers the whole western U.S., did not extend the policy to Texas and New Mexico, acknowledging that nationwide court rulings are “a matter of intense and active controversy.” President Donald Trump has often criticized “activist judges” on federal district courts for issuing nationwide injunctions against his policies.
The Ninth Circuit had previously blocked the policy along the entire southern border last week but suspended its order the same day after the Trump administration warned of dire consequences. The Trump administration is petitioning the Supreme Court to review the policy next week and has asked that it remain active until then, so the Supreme Court has time to decide.
If the past is any indication, Trump might find favor there. The high court has handed Trump numerous immigration victories, recently allowing the administration to enforce the “public charge” rule, which blocks green card applicants who are likely to need public assistance. Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a rare show of open partisanship that echoed activist grievances, rebuked the court for hewing too closely to Trump’s policies.
Activists have decried Trump’s reforms as cruel and contradictory to international law, but the Trump administration insists that they’re necessary to get control of the border and cut down on a backlog of asylum cases. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the Trump administration, welcomed the Ninth Circuit’s block on the “illegal and inhumane” policy.
The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit has long been a thorn in Trump’s side, often ruling against his administration on immigration and other issues. The president has started to flip the court by appointing more conservative judges, but clearly it still has substantial liberal pull.
Federal judges are entrusted with making wise and dispassionate decisions. When did they start taking their cues from liberal interest groups?