U.S. Asylum Officers Are Asking a Federal Court To Overturn Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' Asylum Policy

The labor union for federal asylum officers wrote that Trump's policy is "fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation."


A group of U.S. asylum officers is challenging President Donald Trump's policy of making migrants wait in Mexico prior to their immigration court dates, saying it is "fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation."

The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924—the labor union for federal asylum officers—asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to stop the program. They filed an amicus brief in support of the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, which in February filed a federal lawsuit to put an end to the practice.

Called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, the policy is colloquially known as "Remain in Mexico." Prior to its implementation, the U.S. "ensured that people fleeing persecution would not be—pending adjudication of their asylum application or anytime thereafter—returned to a territory where they may face persecution or threat of torture," the union wrote.

The brief filed by the asylum officers says that under the new policy, many immigrants now "face persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group." The union argues that the practice of forcing them to apply for asylum from outside the U.S. "abandons our tradition of providing a safe haven to the persecuted and violates our international and domestic legal obligations."

MPP was instituted amid the increase of migrants from Central America. The amicus brief says that asylum seekers making their requests from Mexico face violence from drug gangs and that officers have heard "reports of kidnapping migrants for ransom or conscription into criminal activity." Ethnic minorities from indigenous communities throughout Central America have the hardest time, officers say. These migrants allegedly face the same kind of persecution in Mexico that drove them from their home countries, and that many indigenous women are sexually assaulted.

The union argues in its filing that while MPP is unethical, it also "does nothing to streamline the process, but instead increases the burdens on our immigration courts and makes the system more inefficient."

The program has added more immigration cases to a massive pileup, as asylum officers now cannot discriminate between applicants based on whether someone presents a "credible fear" of deportation. Previously, migrants who failed to meet that standard were not allowed to formally plead their case in front of a judge. Somewhat ironically, they are now given that opportunity under the Trump administration's new directive. "In other words," the union writes, "individuals who would never see an immigration judge under the expedited removal procedure are now added to the backlog of cases in line for a full hearing." MPP has also increased the administrative workload of asylum officers, who say in their filing that they are spread thin.

The amicus brief comes as the Trump administration struggles to quell growing public outrage over reports that a father and his daughter from El Salvador were found dead after fleeing a migrant camp in Mexico—which reportedly didn't have enough food—and attempting to cross the border into the U.S. to request asylum.

"We have a crisis at our southern border," Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, tweeted in response to the filing. "While the union plays games in court, @POTUS and this Administration is taking action to secure the system and prevent the further loss of lives." He added that "MPP protects both the vulnerable, while they wait for their hearing, and our asylum system from choking on meritless claims. THAT is what protection officers signed up for."

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  1. Union leaders dont like policy that will limit union numbers. Hard hitting piece here Billy.

    1. Poorly educated bigots, superstitious slack-jaws, and anti-social faux libertarians don’t like being replaced. Their preferences haven’t mattered much for the entirely of our lifetimes.

      1. Moral Fabric is not a legal doctrine, and has no standing in court, or didn’t they teach that in whatever bottom-tier satanarchist correspondence course in which your your court appointed guardians allowed you to enroll

        1. Since time immemorable, we have slammed the “others” as being bugs or rats or other non-humans. Us good, them bad. Them bad ’cause they speak different language, live on the other side of the mountains or river or railroad tracks… Us good, them bad! Can the self-centeredness NOT be plain for all to see?

          I know how to treat others the way that I would like to be treated. It’s that simple. “Others” includes those that evil people like to call illegal sub-humans, and so forth. If “others to be treated as we like to be treated”, in your “ethics”, does NOT include those born on the wrong side of the railroad tracks (river, mountains, invisible lines in the sand, yada-yada), then WHERE did you get your so-called “ethics”? God? Evolution? The cosmos? Karma? Democracy? Keep in mind that our “democracy” has blessed slavery, Jim Crow, no votes for women, concentration camps for Japanese-Americans, and on and on…

          I have repeatedly asked this question (especially with regards to illegal humans), and I NEVER get answers from the bigots!!!

          So “court dogma” blesses your evil hatred of the “other”? Is that the ONLY leg upon which you stand?

        2. “Moral fabric” could justify most anything, depending on one’s morals. Or lack thereof.

      2. It’s cute you think you’re relevant.

        1. People like me have been establishing the rules in America, against the preferences and efforts of people like you, throughout my lifetime. This seems destined to continue throughout our lifetimes. Your compliance with my wishes is enough relevance for me.

          1. People like you were bitch-slapped by that court in Oberlin.

          2. So…we have you to thank for climate change, the Iraq war and Trump? You super-smart folks have some weird priorities.

          3. People like you commit atrocities like eugenics thinking you have a moral mandate to reshape humanity in your vision. You’re closer to a certain nazi doctor than an actual good person.

  2. What’s wrong with staying in Mexico? People spend money to go down there on vacation, so it must be nice.

    1. Well, for one thing, they face violence from and pressure to work for drug gangs. I mean, if anything like that ever happened in the barrios of East LA or Oakland or San Antonio, they would never be allowed to seek asylum here, either, to be sure.

  3. “The labor union for federal asylum officers wrote that Trump’s policy is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.”

    The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924 is part of the AFL-CIO.

    They don’t get paid much for taking care of prisoners who aren’t in the United States, and that is surely their motivation.

    Since when did Reason allow themselves to become the mouthpiece of the AFL-CIO? This is a new low. If they didn’t pay you to write this shit, then that’s even more embarrassing that you’re willing to carry water for the AFL-CIO for free.

    Yeah, Billy Binion should be ashamed of himself, and, if he isn’t, then the Reason Foundation should be ashamed of him.

    1. I dunno, Billy’s shitty article on the Oberlin court case sets the bar for “low point” really damned low.

      1. Billy has been consistent on his low bar application of thought.

        1. He’s not paid to apply thought, he’s paid to channel Vox and Huffpo.

    2. Represented: 700,000 federal and D.C. government employees*

      —-The American Federation of Government Employees

      700,000 government employees can’t be wrong!

    3. I was unaware that the “moral fabric of our nation” was a specific law on the books or anything.

      Must be part of that penumbra about “muh feelz”.

      “The amicus brief comes as the Trump administration struggles to quell growing public outrage over reports that a father and his daughter from El Salvador were found dead after fleeing a migrant camp in Mexico—which reportedly didn’t have enough food—and attempting to cross the border into the U.S. to request asylum.”

      You mean the father who faced zero persecution at home and simply wanted a better paying job? Seems like his asylum requested wasn’t being processed as “SHOW ME DA MONEY!!” is not a known justification for refugee status.

      1. “I was unaware that the “moral fabric of our nation” was a specific law on the books or anything.”

        I was unaware that Reason would hire someone pathetic and stupid enough to give any consideration to the suggestion that the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924 could somehow speak for the moral fabric of our nation.

        I wrote about “both-sides-ism”, around here, and how wrong that can be, recently, but I’m starting to think it’s not about wrongheadedness. People are starting to use it on purpose for diversionary bullshit tactics. Two sides of an issue should not be given equal consideration in a debate just for the sake of balance–not if one side has little to stand on by way of facts or logic.

        People should be legally allowed to believe in a seven day creation. To give that theory equal weight with survival of the fittest and genetic drift as a scientific explanation for our origins in the name of balance is not only factually incorrect–it’s deceptive.

        Listening to what government employee unions have to say on matters that impact their own employment (or the moral fabric of our nation) in the name of balance is fucking horseshit. Trying to go after public policy using the propaganda of such an outfit is (bullshit)^2. Because they have no authority on the moral fabric of our nation doesn’t make their indictment of policy any more poignant either. It just makes the people who parrot them seem even more gullible.

        1. How do you square bullshit? I guess ya gotta wait a few hours until it firms up a little, or it will just keep oozing into a pile.

          1. You start with a bullshit premise, and then you use that premise to support other bullshit–and that’s just the beginning. Have you seen the Green New Deal and Medicare for All? They grew up as little shit sparks from the ol’ shit flint and turned into a shit bonfire and then, driven by the winds of monumental ignorance, they turned into a raging shit firestorm. Once they burn through our defenses, they could unleash a shitnami that could engulf the capitalist world and cover us all in shit. They want us to drown in the undershit of that shit wave.

            1. Those not on the progressive bandwagon (so, most Reason writers are excluded) need to learn something:
              There’s 3 types of people in the world – dicks, pussies, and assholes.
              Dicks just want to run around and fuck everything and don’t care about manners. So pussies don’t like dicks – because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes, Ken. Assholes that just shit all over. And if our dick doesn’t fuck these assholes, then we’re gonna get our dicks and our pussies and the world all covered in shit.

              Trump may not be the dick you pussies wanted, but he’s the only dick that can keep the progressives from covering this country in shit.

    4. “Yeah, Billy Binion should be ashamed of himself, and, if he isn’t, then the Reason Foundation should be ashamed of him.”

      The faux libertarian clingers and right-wing bigots seem to have become quite cranky about this site. If isn’t careful, it could lose most of its most active commenters to RedState, FreeRepublic, Stormfront, and Breitbart.

      1. Well pick one and leave already.

        1. Kirkland didn’t form a rational response to the observation that this is union bullshit–because he can’t. He’s a fucking moron. If he’s ever made a rational argument in his life, it was only by accident. Maybe he should prove me wrong!

          Hey Kirkland, why don’t you make a rational argument about why we should ignore the fact that the interests of a union that represents 700,000 government employees conflict with the interests of hundreds of millions of American taxpayers, generally, and the interests of fiscally conservative libertarians, specifically? I think it’s because you’re incapable of stringing a logical argument together, and I dare you to prove me wrong.

          1. Why do you assume that most Americans support cruel right-wing authoritarianism and belligerent bigotry with respect to immigration?

            Backwater religious schooling? Homeschooling by substandard parents? Steady diet of Fox, Instapundit, FreeRepublic, and white nationalist podcasts?

            1. In other words, Kirkland declined

              1. Yeah, there’s nothing quite like being accused of stupidity by someone who can’t put a rational argument together on a dare. His part in this exchange would be laughed out of a Freshman logic class in a community college. It’s the rationale of someone who wins arguments at the dinner table through intimidation or something.

                “ad hominem + (red herring * circular logic)(ad hominem)^2” does not equal “win”. I suspect he’s never been exposed to basic logic because every time I challenge him to put an argument together, he falls on his face . . . again. It’s not that he doesn’t want to or never tries; it’s that he doesn’t seem to know where to begin.

                And this isn’t the first time.

                1. P.S. If he ever grokked the appeal to authority fallacy, it would probably blow his mind. Behind everything else, there seems to be this theory that the rest of us are wrong because he believes what the smart people believe. He points to his appeal to authority fallacies like we’re supposed to congratulate him for it–like a kid that’s being potty trained but shits on the floor instead. No, that wasn’t a good job, Kirkland, and that you think it was makes it ever worse.

            2. Oof, Kirkland, this response makes you look really stupid. You should have just ignored Ken’s comment, instead you just really embarrassed yourself with such a vapid response.

              1. It’s moments like these when I suspect people like Arthur, and Jeff, really are trying to be self-refuting.

            3. “”Why do you assume that most Americans support cruel right-wing authoritarianism and belligerent bigotry with respect to immigration?””

              BI magazine wrote an article about the poor conditions of people held in these facilities back in 2014. Educated people know this was happening under Obama. Where was the outcry then? Right wing authoritarianism is bad but left wing authoritarianism is not worth paying attention to. Trump still hasn’t deported more than Obama.

              For a person that complains about uneducated people, you sure don’t seem educated.

              If they can’t say in Mexico, they will be kept in these facilities people are complaining about. That’s a win for who?

    5. Are libertarians supposed to knee-jerk everything that the AFL-CIO does? Perhaps if an institution that we would normally oppose occasionally does something right, we should take some time to support that action?

      “Oh, but their motives are suspect!” Well, sure they are. Not everyone is going to support everything that we might support for the same reasons that we might support it. Take marijuana for instance. Plenty of people support legalizing marijuana not for reasons that we might support – on the basis of fundamental liberty – but because they want another tax source for the state, or because they simply just want to get high and don’t really care about high-falutin’ libertarian ideals or anything.

      1. er, that should be “knee-jerk OPPOSE everything that the AFL-CIO does”

      2. White knighting the AFLCIO?

      3. I generally agree with what you post on these comments, but I do understand the idea that a public sector union trying to litigate policy based on their preferences is disturbing. It isn’t their place to decide what is ethical. I say this as someone who is very supportive of open borders and free trade.

        1. It isn’t their place to decide what is ethical.

          In an absolute sense? No, but they’re entitled to an opinion on the matter nonetheless.

          1. Where did Ken say they weren’t entitled to an opinion?

            1. Did you miss, in that response, I was not directly responding to Ken’s comment there, champ?

          2. Well, Jeff, way back in the day, when California was still reddish, and they passed the very first “three strikes and you’re out ” legislation in the country, do you know who the biggest contributor to the initiative was? The union representing prison gaurds. That’s right, a union of government employees campaigned to imprison even more citizens, in order to protect union jobs.

            1. Sure, that sounds pretty awful. I obviously don’t agree with that, I didn’t say they were saints or moral paragons.

          3. That would be fine if they were, say, writing an op-ed, or running TV commercials. But they are suing because…they don’t like it? Trying to enforce something in court is a bit beyond having and voicing an opinion. And before the response is that they have a right to try to bring suit, sure. I just think it should be summarily dismissed.

      4. It’s not just “our motives are suspect.”

        It starts with “our argument is an appeal to authority” with no legal or constitutional basis. If their actual argument was worth a shit then we might have to spend some time considering it.

        But as it is, by offering such a shameless and empty argument they’ve left themselves open to the question of exactly who are they to make such a worthless and shameless argument?

        Oh, right. they are the people who directly benefit from the outcome they seek.

    6. They don’t get paid much for taking care of prisoners who aren’t in the United States, and that is surely their motivation.

      Likely, but not certain. There’s also the possibility that the humble public servants that really run the government simply don’t like anything that doesn’t grow the size and scope of government and are openly insubordinate to their elected “boss”. What percentage of the civilian government workforce do you suppose are Democrats? I’d bet there sure as hell aren’t too many small-government advocates getting their paychecks from Uncle Sam.

      1. We should also look at this from a wider angle. As a real deal libertarian capitalist, I have some main goals. Here’s a short list:

        I want to get rid of the income tax, the capital gains tax, and the corporate tax–because that’s half of the classic socialist recipe, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need”. The socialists can’t have wealth redistribution if they can’t get to our wealth.

        To address the, “To each according to their need” part, I want to eliminate Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, rent assistance, and then I want to privatize all the public schools. In fact, I want to cut pretty much all federal spending that isn’t directly associated with national defense, law enforcement, or the courts.

        How do you think the 700,000 members of the American Federation of Government Employees feel about that? I suspect they’ll say that cutting all that spending is wrong–because it goes against the moral fiber of our nation. And given Binion’s expose above, where do you think he’s likely to land on that?

        My guess is that he wouldn’t be on the side of libertarian capitalism at all–not if he’s already taking the government employees’ seriously now. Fuck the government employees. In a better world, charities will spring up to feed their starving asses–since nobody in their right mind would willingly pay them to do what they do now.

      2. “…the government simply don’t like anything that doesn’t grow the size and scope of government…”

        In that context this article is not much different than a lot of Reason articles celebrating changes in state marijuana laws. Changes that significantly expanded the administrative state and increased taxes, in exchange for slightly increased permission to use marijuana, but only in the non-proscribed fashion(s).

        Because the net effect was soooo libertarian.

  4. People like you were bitch-slapped by that court in Oberlin.

  5. The world is full of people who want to come to the US and now that world incomes are rising, they can find out how to get there, game the system to stay, and have the money to make the trip. The numbers of those coming will surely rise.
    The law was accurately stated. None of the five reasons for granting asylum apply to almost any of those people, which is why 90% do not show up for their hearing. Sadly, relative poverty and crime are common throughout the world. We can not take them all, but can take those who do meet the standards for asylum. Sort them out outside the US so that those who came to game the asylum system can not stay.

  6. OT – Trump’s fault!

    “This morning (June 26), GLAAD published research that shows that young people—apparently overwhelmed by the “newness” of the variety of sexual orientations and gender identities, and the anti-LGBT animus of the Trump administration—are becoming less accepting of LGBTQ people.

    “In its fifth annual Accelerating Acceptance Index, GLAAD found that the only age-group to post a decline in acceptance of LGBTQ people was 18- to 34-year-olds.

    “The study, conducted by the Harris Poll, looked at acceptance levels across seven areas: learning a family member is LGBT, learning one’s doctor is LGBT, having LGBT members at one’s place of worship, seeing an LGBT co-worker’s wedding picture, having one’s child placed in a class with a LGBT teacher, seeing a same-sex couple holding hands, and learning one’s child has a lesson on LGBT history in school.

    “GLAAD found that the number of U.S. adults ages 18-34 who reported being “very” or “somewhat” comfortable across these situations dropped from 53 percent to 45 percent. “This reflects a continued erosion in comfort among this age group over the past two years,” GLAAD reported. “This year, the significant erosion is being driven by females ages 18-34, where comfort levels fell from 64 percent last year to 52 percent this year.”…

    “The group plans to target young men with pro-LGBTQ messaging in the arena of video games. But this year, in terms of gender, the decline was seen most in women, aged 18-34. Ellis said that GLAAD would start targeted messaging aimed at that demographic in the arena of country music.”

    1. This wouldn’t be the first generation to grow more culturally conservative as they grew older. In fact, that probably describes every generation. If Gen Y and those who came afterwards had an extended adolescence, it’s no surprise if they grew more conservative later in life than past generations.

      Incidentally, Gen Y and later generations seem to be following their white flight ancestors out to the suburbs, as well. If you look at surveys, they talk about quality of life and schools for their kids, which isn’t exactly a new refrain. Introduce forced busing for purposes of integration, and they might go nuts against it–just like people did back in the 1970s.

    2. I suspect #7 and, probably to a lesser extent, #5 are the main dealbreakers. I’d bet #3 is a distant third (especially considering the decline in proportion of the population who attend religious services).

      Indoctrination of children through LGBT specific lessons is absolutely ridiculous, and I imagine creates backlash – which is the real goal of activists.

      1 – “very”
      2 – “very”
      3 – N/A, but I’ll go ahead and say “very” using my former boss, church involved and a good friend, for reference
      4 – “very”
      5 – “somewhat”, depends on the individual and if they had an agenda, though this is a hypothetical since I don’t have children
      6 – “somewhat”
      7 – “no”

  7. Moral fabric- I’ve read our Constitution many times, and don’t recall that being in there anywhere.

    Doesn’t matter.

    If the ruling is for Trump it will be based in law.

    If the ruling is against Trump, it will be based on the new legal doctrine used by liberal judges across the nation- ORANGE MAN BAD! No other justification needed.

  8. I stopped reading at “Southern Poverty Law Center”.

  9. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924—the labor union for federal asylum officers—asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to stop the program.


    Prohibit public sector unions altogether.

    If you choose to be the employee of an authoritarian agency, you shouldn’t be permitted to band together to lobby and reward politicians for giving you more power.

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