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Judge says forcing waits in Mexico to seek asylum is illegal

Remain in Mexico Explainer
Posted at 8:50 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 23:50:12-04

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government’s practice of denying migrants a chance to apply for asylum until space opens up to process claims is unconstitutional.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant in San Diego has no immediate impact but could prevent the government from limiting entry for asylum-seekers if it says it lacks resources to handle it.

It could also bring relief to some of the tens of thousands of people who put their names on unofficial waiting lists in Mexican border towns.

Bashant, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ordered the Justice Department and plaintiffs led by Los Angeles-based advocacy group Al Otro Lado to recommend next steps by Oct. 1.

The U.S. stopped accepting all asylum-seekers at border crossings in March 2020, with few exceptions, under pandemic-related authority known as Title 42. The Trump administration first invoked the authority to prevent spread of the coronavirus, and the Biden administration extended it. The judge asked both sides to explain the impact of Title 42 on her ruling.