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Ninth Circuit Smacked Down Two Trump Administration Immigration Policies in One Day


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down two rulings on Friday that struck at the heart of the Trump Administration’s hardline immigration policies.

In one case, the court examined a rule implemented last July, which had sweeping consequences for refugees. That rule prohibited people from requesting asylum if they crossed into the United States along the southern border of Mexico between designated ports of entry. Following the administration’s announcement, a federal court for the Northern District of California then blocked the asylum ban — by issuing a nationwide injunction.

The Ninth Circuit ruled to uphold the lower court’s injunction, effectively halting the rule’s implementation entirely. Notably, that particular aspect of immigration litigation is precisely what fueled Donald Trump‘s attacks on the federal judiciary.

The Ninth Circuit also reviewed an injunction against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP); under MPP, refugees and asylum-seekers are deprived due process and access to counsel, and must remain in Mexico indefinitely while their asylum applications are processed. The program, often called “Remain in Mexico,” is another pillar of the Trump hard-line immigration initiatives.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg issued a preliminary inunction against MPP last April, specifically on the basis that the MPP may conflict with Administrative Procedure Act. The Ninth Circuit ruled Friday, however, that asylum seekers must be allowed into the United States while their cases make their way through American immigration courts – a process that can take months or even years.

The court ruled that the program “directly affects immigration into this country along our southern border,” and upheld the district court’s injunction on that basis, calling the administration’s position “exactly backwards.”

Because both rulings function simply to uphold preliminary injunctions, there is still additional potential for appeal to the Supreme Court, as well as further litigation on the underlying merits of the cases.

The Ninth Circuit’s rulings indicate, however, that the court believes there is a likelihood of success on the merits of the underlying challenges to the rules, which does not bode well for the Trump administration.

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos