For Immediate Release: February 14, 2020
Contact: Arianna Rosales, media [at] ilrc.org

ILRC: New Ruling Allowing Child Asylum Seekers to Challenge Return to Mexico While Awaiting Court Hearings Vital to Protecting Thousands of Immigrant Youth 

Yesterday, in a case challenging the dangerous Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)’s application to children, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal district courts have jurisdiction to hear claims from asylum-seeking youth arising under the Flores Settlement Agreement. This decision provides children seeking asylum at the southern border the opportunity to challenge their return under MPP to potentially life-threatening situations in Mexico before their hearing in immigration court.

Forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico until a judge can hear their claims puts thousands of people, including at least 16,000 children, in serious danger, facing harms like violence, kidnapping, sexual assault, and long-term trauma.  

Said Rachel Prandini, immigrant youth project attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

“Thousands of young children facing unimaginable violence have been effectively silenced, turned away, and put in even greater danger since the Trump administration enacted this policy denying them safety and stability as they await their day in court. The cruel so-called 'Migrant Protection Protocols' endanger thousands of children and contradict the global norm of allowing people to await court proceedings in the country where they are seeking asylum, where they are protected from violence.  

“We applaud the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision making clear that all federal district courts are able to hear claims under the Flores Settlement Agreement—a mandate to protect children from mistreatment in immigrant detention—including in challenge to MPP. These inhumane protocols jeopardize the lives and security of vulnerable children, further traumatizing them rather than allowing them to wait safely in the United States until they are able to share their fears with a judge. 

“We must be able to count on our court system to respect the rights, lives, and dignity of all, especially the children who are least able to fight for themselves and rely on us most to protect them. We call on Congress to put an end to the humanitarian crisis that MPP has created at our border.”


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC protects and defends the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.