The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday voted to block President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy in areas of Arizona and California over which the court has jurisdiction.

The ruling will allow the program to continue “outside the geographical boundaries of the Ninth Circuit.”

In the meantime, the court has agreed to wait until March 12th for its ruling to take effect to see if the Supreme Court decides to take action.

Implemented in January 2019, the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy forces asylum seekers arriving at the US-Mexico border to wait in Mexico while officials in the US work through the immigration proceedings.

The policy is designed to ease the strain on facilities and agencies in the US that deal with migrants and to disincentivize immigrants with fraudulent asylum claims from making the journey to the US border.

This week’s ruling could drive another migration surge, warns Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, “not only making our jobs harder to protect the southwest border and safeguard this country, but also it’s just going to reenergize the pull factors of illegal immigration, putting everyone once again at risk.”

During its first year, the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy saw more than 59,000 migrants returned to Mexico to wait for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Less than 1% of them have achieved successful entry into the states.

Critics say the policy forces migrants to wait in dangerous areas where they are subject to kidnappings, rape, extortion, family separation, homelessness, and other forms of suffering.

Up to 95% of the asylum seekers waiting in Mexico do not have legal representation.

“‘Remain in Mexico’ has already sent more than 60,000 asylum-seekers to Mexico, violating our legal obligation to provide safe haven to those fleeing life-threatening violence at home,” argues ACLU legal counsel Richard Caldarone. “We call on the government to end this heinous program entirely.”