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June 27, 2019

U.S. asylum officers asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to block President Trump's "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy, arguing in a friend-of-the-court brief that Trump's policy of making asylum-seekers stay in Mexico while awaiting their immigration hearing puts migrants in mortal danger, is unnecessary, and is "fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our nation and our international and domestic legal obligations." A lower court put the policy on hold in April, saying it is probably illegal, but the appellate court allowed it to continue during litigation. Trump and Mexico expanded the policy earlier this month at Trump's insistence.

Since January, 12,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico, The Washington Post reports. The 37-page brief, filed by American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, a union representing 2,500 asylum officers and other federal workers, says that "asylum officers are duty-bound to protect vulnerable asylum seekers from persecution," that "Mexico is simply not safe for Central American asylum seekers," and that the U.S. asylum system is "not, as the administration has claimed, fundamentally broken," but instead "has the foundation and agility necessary to deal with the flow of migrants through our Southern Border."

"The legal filing is an unusual public rebuke of a sitting president by his own employees, and it plunges a highly trained officer corps that typically operates under secrecy into a public legal battle over one of Trump's most prized immigration policies," the Post reports. "Under Trump, the asylum division has become a target of internal ire, often assailed for approving most initial asylum screenings and sending migrants to immigration court for a full hearing." Last week, new acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief Ken Cuccinelli implicitly rebuked the asylum officers in an internal email for being overly generous with asylum screenings. Peter Weber

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