Thousands have fled Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in recent months amid growing gang violence and abject poverty in the region. The ruling comes as more than 2,000 migrants made their way through Mexico on Friday, hoping to reach the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican authorities said around 350 migrants broke the locks on a gate at the Guatemalan border Friday and forced their way into the country.
The government is asking the 9th Circuit to keep the asylum policy while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts. It argued halting it would endanger the public.
Families seeking asylum are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court. The new policy began in January at the nation’s busiest border crossing in San Diego. More than 1,300 asylum-seekers have been to Mexico so far, according to the Mexican government.
“I haven’t heard of anyone who’s been sent back since the judge’s order on Monday,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Judy Rabinovitz said.
The Trump administration has said its stance on asylum is a response to a shortage of detention space for migrants and overwhelmed immigration officials as more migrants appear at the border each day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.