(Reuters) – A U.S. federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday blocked a Trump administration policy that forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait months in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration courts.
Three judges on the U.S. Circuit’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the policy was in conflict with the text and congressional purpose of U.S. immigration laws.
The program, which started a year ago and is called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), is one of the most dramatic changes in immigration policy implemented by the Trump administration.
The United States Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it is likely that the administration could quickly appeal to the United States Supreme Court’s decision as it has done with other judgments.
About 59,000 people were sent back to Mexico under the program, which started in San Diego before being extended to other ports of entry across the U.S.-Mexico border. [L2N25W1G1]
Migrants, many of them children, faced violence and homelessness while waiting for the dates of their courts in dangerous border towns. At least 343 people under the program have been violently attacked or threatened in Mexico, according to a Human Rights Watch report on October 1 documenting kidnappings, rape and assault.
Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Additional reports from Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller