The ACLU of Massachusetts today filed a brief with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in their challenge to a Trump administration policy that forces asylum-seekers to return to Mexico and remain there indefinitely while their asylum applications are processed.

The ACLU successfully reunited three Massachusetts families with a preliminary injunction in May—a win that the Trump administration appealed. The federal government has asked the First Circuit to overturn the district court’s order and seeks to immediately return five asylum-seekers to dangerous cities along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The administration’s pursuit of its anti-immigrant agenda knows no bounds,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “While the Trump administration continues to double down on this hateful, unlawful policy, the irreparable harm it causes is clear. We will continue this fight to end the suffering for these families, and to end this policy altogether.”  

Under what was dubbed the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) by the Trump administration, tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been sent to dangerous cities in Mexico, waiting in peril for many months just to have their cases heard. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, court proceedings are on hold indefinitely, leaving thousands of people stranded for additional months. Far from providing “protection” for migrants and asylum-seekers, the policy has exposed people to severe risk of violence and persecution.

Plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit include three women and two young children who were sent by U.S. border officials to Matamoros—a dangerous border town in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas—until their next court date. Before the May ruling, the families endured between eight and ten months of danger and abject misery simply for the chance to seek protection in the United States.

The ACLU of Massachusetts previously reached a settlement on behalf of another family living in the Commonwealth, whose husband and son were forced into danger for months under MPP. The family was reunited in February.