Did somebody spike the water in San Diego this week? A very unusual ruling was handed down from the Ninth Circuit yesterday. President Trump’s recent policy of having asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases are heard had been put on hold last month when a federal judge in San Francisco agreed with immigration advocacy groups who challenged it. But the government appealed the decision and yesterday the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision, saying the policy could remain in effect while the challenge plays out in the courts. Since when does the Ninth Circuit agree with Donald Trump? (Associated Press)
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration can make asylum seekers wait in Mexico for immigration court hearings while the policy is challenged in court, handing the president a major victory, even if it proves only temporary.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — a frequent target of the president’s complaints — reversed a decision by a San Francisco judge that would have prevented asylum seekers from being returned to Mexico during the legal challenge.
The case must still be considered on its merits and could end up at the Supreme Court. But allowing the policy to remain in effect in the meantime lets the administration carry out an unprecedented change to U.S. asylum practices.
Well, that’s certainly helpful. Our immigration courts and detention centers down on the southern border are so overwhelmed that there’s no more room to hold people while their cases are processed. That’s led to a huge spike in people simply being released into the interior of the country in the hope that they will show up for their court date. (Many do not.)
The new policy allows those seeking asylum to show up at an authorized border crossing and have transportation provided for them to go to court. When their hearing is finished they are returned to the border and allowed to go back into Mexico. The Mexican government has been okay with this plan (at least for now) and it takes some of the pressure off of our detention centers and courts. The problem is that the backlog is already so great that some of the asylum seekers will wait months, if not years, before their case is concluded.
Since the policy is being challenged in a couple of places, the Supreme Court likely won’t get involved until most of them have chimed in. Thus far the Supremes have beenn giving the President a fairly wide lattitude when it comes to questions of immigration policy and they may do so again here. But the only real way to address this issue is to vastly expand the volume of traffic our immigration courts can handle and start clearing the backlog, along with setting up more detention centers. The flow of migrants, particularly from Guatemala and Honduras, is always going to be greater than the current system can handle.
Either that or we’ll have to figure out some way to significantly slow the flow of migrants, both legal and illegal, crossing the Mexican border. If only someone had a plan for some type of barrier or something…