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What Back-and-Forth Decisions on the ‘Remain in Mexico’ Plan Mean for Asylum Seekers and Their Lawyers

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People walk back to Tijuana from San Diego at San Ysidro crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on April 2nd, 2019.

This month, the Trump administration’s so-called “Remain in Mexico” plan essentially became illegal and then legal again, all in the space of a few days. The centerpiece of President Donald Trump‘s current immigration policy, the plan allows the government to force non-Mexican asylum seekers back into Mexico to await the outcome of their refugee status court case.

Just over a week ago, I wrote about how a judge in San Francisco had placed a preliminary injunction on the Remain in Mexico plan, strongly implying that the policy, known officially as the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” did not have sufficient safeguards in place to guarantee asylum seekers’ safety. The judge ordered the government to stop sending asylum seekers back to Mexico starting that Friday, April 15th: The Remain in Mexico plan seemed to have been blocked.

But, that week, as I covered other immigration stories (including Trump‘s potential new plan to release detained immigrants in sanctuary cities), the administration was working behind the scenes to appeal the preliminary injunction. As the end-of-week deadline approached, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took up the case, and, by Friday, in what felt like whiplash, the court had issued a stay on the judge’s preliminary injunction.

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