Federal Court Rules that Government Actions Under Remain in Mexico are Subject to Orantes Injunction

April 28, 2022

Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Katie Hoeppner, [email protected]
ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, 626-755-4129, [email protected]

Federal Court Rules that Government Actions Under Remain in Mexico are Subject to Orantes Injunction

LOS ANGELES — A federal district court on Wednesday ordered the U.S. government to turn over information sought by advocates on whether the Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy’s application violated longstanding court-ordered protections for certain migrants.

“This court victory will help shed light on the full extent of the harm caused by this cruel and unlawful Trump-era policy and is a crucial step toward vindicating the rights of Salvadoran class members unlawfully denied a fair shot at asylum,” said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We will continue fighting to restore full and fair access to asylum for all people seeking safety and freedom from persecution in our country.”

Plaintiffs in Orantes-Hernandez v. Meese, a class-action lawsuit first filed in the 1980s that protects the rights of Salvadorans detained by immigration officials, returned to court after notifying the Biden administration in November that it could face further legal action concerning Remain in Mexico, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which the administration reinstated in response to an order from another federal court in Texas.

On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that plaintiffs raised significant questions regarding the federal government’s compliance with a permanent injunction in the Orantes case and ordered the government to produce more information to determine whether Remain in Mexico violated the injunction’s terms.

“This win is an important first step toward uncovering the government’s continued interference with the rights of Salvadorans fleeing persecution to seek asylum in this country,” said Morgan Russell, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

“The court rightly recognized that the constitutional protections enshrined in the Orantes injunction are as vital today as they were in the 1980s,” said Eva Bitrán, staff attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “This is an important step toward restoring Salvadorans’ right to apply for asylum.”

The National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Southern California, and Public Counsel represent plaintiffs in the case.

Members of the legal team include: Lisa Graybill, Max Wolson, Jess Hanson, Michelle Lapointe, and Bianca Alcala-Ruiz of the National Immigration Law Center; Morgan Russell of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Eva Bitrán of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel.

The court ruling is available here.