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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Rule of Law Clinic Files Amicus Brief Challenging “Remain in Mexico” Policy

The Yale Law School Rule of Law Clinic and the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of a bipartisan group of 22 former immigration, national security, foreign policy, and other public officials as part of the ongoing Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan case challenging the Trump Administration’s Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), colloquially known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. 

The policy at issue requires asylum seekers from Northern Triangle countries to be sent to Mexico while their asylum claims are being processed, reversing the United States’ long-held practice of permitting asylum seekers to await their hearings in the United States. In the brief, filed on June 26, the officials argue that “the government’s purported justifications for the [policy] do not pass muster” and that “the MPP actively harms the United States’ foreign and security interests.” The brief argues that the policy “stands in stark contrast to [the United States’] history and commitment to the international refugee system . . . [and] violates the United States’ non-refoulement obligations not to send asylum seekers back to territories where they will be persecuted.”

The list of amici include James Clapper (former Director of National Intelligence), Nancy Ely-Raphel (former Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons), Heather A. Higginbottom (former Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources), Janet Napolitano (former Secretary of Homeland Security), Thomas R. Pickering (former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs) Amy Pope (former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President), Jeffrey Prescott ’97 (former Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President), Dan Restrepo (former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council), Anne C. Richard (former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration), David Robinson (former Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration), Wendy R. Sherman (former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs), Jake Sullivan (former National Security Advisor to the Vice President), Strobe Talbott (former Deputy Secretary of State), and Arturo A. Valenzuela (former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs), among others.

The case was brought in the Northern District of California by the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies on behalf of 11 individual asylum seekers and several organizational plaintiffs. In April, the district court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the continued implementation of the MPP. The case is now before the Ninth Circuit on appeal.

The Yale Law School Rule of Law Clinic — through litigation, policy advocacy, and strategic planning — encourages a collaborative approach to addressing issues of national security, antidiscrimination, climate change, and democracy. Since the founding of the clinic, its students have challenged the government’s travel ban, helped defend the rights of transgender people barred from entering military service, and filed cutting-edge suits to protect democratic rights. These clinical experiences not only change peoples’ lives, but also provide skills for students as they pursue their legal careers.