A federal appeals court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its policy of having asylum-seekers stay in Mexico as they await their immigration hearings.
The ruling, handed down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, applies to the U.S. southern border and bans a policy that has been in effect since January 2019. The injunction will be in effect while a legal challenge to the administration's rule plays out.
A three-judge panel on the circuit court said in the opinion that the policy strips "asylum eligibility from every migrant who crosses into the United States along the southern border of Mexico between designated ports of entry."
They ruled that the rule from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security violate the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows migrants to apply for asylum when they arrive in the U.S.
"Explicitly authorizing a refugee to file an asylum application because he arrived between ports of entry and then summarily denying the application for the same reason borders on absurdity," the opinion reads.
"The Rule will likely result in some migrants being wrongfully denied refugee status in this country," the judges wrote.
Two of the judges are Clinton appointees and one is a George W. Bush appointee.
The appeals court affirmed an initial injunction on the policy handed down in December 2018 by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, an Obama appointee.
Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney who argued the case on behalf of a group of legal organizations, applauded the ruling.
“Once again the courts have recognized there is tremendous danger facing asylum seekers along the entire southern border, and that the administration cannot unilaterally rewrite the laws," Gelernt said in a statement.
The White House and Department of Justice (DOJ) did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
The policy was announced in November 2018 with a presidential proclamation and new rules from DHS and DOJ.
"The arrival of large numbers of aliens will contribute to the overloading of our immigration and asylum system and to the release of thousands of aliens into the interior of the United States," President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE said in the proclamation. "The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders."
A coalition of immigrant advocacy groups — the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and the Central American Resource Center — filed suit and a district court judge and a separate appellate panel ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction against the administration.
The Trump administration has seen a flurry of legal challenges to its efforts to crack down on immigration. On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a pair of cases challenging the government's expedited deportation procedures.
--Updated at 2:32 p.m.