ACLU, others sue Trump over plan to keep asylum seekers in Mexico

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies are suing the Department of Homeland Security over a new policy that forces asylum seekers to wait for the result of their asylum petitions in Mexico.

The suit, filed Thursday, alleges that the policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, violates both U.S. and international law and puts asylum seekers at risk. They argue that the MPP program violates the law because it cites a provision that allows for the removal of non-citizens but cannot be used on asylum seekers.

It also violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it did not give proper notice and comment and is "arbitrary" and "capricious," the groups allege. 

“This is no longer just a war on asylum seekers, it’s a war on our system of laws,” Melissa Crow, a SPLC attorney, said in a statement. “This misguided policy deprives vulnerable individuals of humanitarian protections that have been on the books for decades and puts their lives in jeopardy.”

The suit also says the new program, which was first announced in December, threatens the lives of asylum seekers. 

"Under the new policy, immigration authorities are forcing asylum seekers at the southern border of the United States to return to Mexico—to regions experiencing record levels of violence—where they must remain for the duration of their asylum proceedings." the lawsuit says. "By placing them in such danger, and under conditions that make if difficult if not impossible for them to prepare their cases, Defendants are depriving them of a meaningful opportunity to seek asylum."

The ACLU, SPLC and CGRS are representing 11 asylum seekers who said they are fleeing their home countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras out of fear of violence or persecution.

For example, one of the asylum seekers, called Bianca Doe in the suit, said in court that she is fled Honduras because her partner's father threatened to kill her because she is a lesbian. She is currently in Tijuana and fears for her life, according to the lawsuit.

DHS did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.