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Trump administration wins unexpected victory in asylum case

Florida residents may be aware that the Trump administration is involved in a protracted legal battle with civil rights groups over the plight of Central American immigrants at the Mexican border who are seeking asylum in the United States. President Trump has referred to the situation as a national emergency and ordered asylum seekers who cross the border returned to Mexico to wait for a hearing. That policy was brought to a halt on April 8 by a federal judge in California, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed the ruling on May 7 with a decision that surprised many pundits.

Trump may also have been surprised by the decision as he has often been a harsh critic of the 9th Circuit. The lawsuit the court ruled on was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies on behalf of 11 Central American asylum seekers. The appeals court ruling does not put an end to the case, and many legal observers believe that it will eventually find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While the courts may eventually allow the asylum seekers involved to enter the United States while their cases are pending, the records suggest that the vast majority of their petitions will be denied. The groups behind the lawsuit concede that these immigrants are fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, but the asylum system was not put into place to provide an escape from harsh conditions. To be granted asylum, petitioners must be able to prove that they face persecution based on their race, national origin, religion, or political opinions.

Asylum seekers make their arguments in what are known as credible threat hearings. Attorneys with immigration law experience may assist them prepare for these hearings and gather the kind of documentation that could establish that their fears are genuine.

Source: Fox News, "Appeals court allows Trump administration to send back asylum seekers to Mexico to wait out court process", Nicole Darrah, May 7, 2019

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