April 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is allowed to return asylum seekers to Mexico after a federal appeals court temporarily put on hold a district judge's order blocking the policy.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Friday it wants time to consider the government's emergency motion appealing Judge Richard Seeborg's preliminary injunction Monday, CNN reported. The policy was scheduled to go into effect Friday.
"Finally, great news at the border!" President Trump posted on Twitter Friday night.
Circuit judges Paul J. Watford, Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and William A. Fletcher said groups that filed a lawsuit need to file a brief by Tuesday, and the government can reply by Wednesday.
Earlier Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union, among those filing suit, had asked the court to deny the emergency request.
"The plaintiffs and others like them are very vulnerable to harm in Mexico and should be able to pursue their asylum claims in the United States," Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told NBC News on Friday night.
In January, the Migrant Protection Protocols program was first rolled out at the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Mexico. Up to 400 people had been returned to Mexico under the policy, known as "Remain in Mexico," a Department of Homeland Security official told CNN.
Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had ordered that the policy to be expanded along the southern border but Seeborg's preliminary injunction halted the plan.
The government, in its motion, said the injunction was based on "serious errors of law" and blocked an initiative "designed to address the dramatically escalating burdens of unauthorized migration."
"I think it's surprising given it's the 9th Circuit and that the injunction returned border policy to the status quo prior to the Trump change," Pratheepan Gulasekaram, a professor and immigration expert at Santa Clara University School of Law, told BuzzFeed News. "But of course, this isn't necessarily an indication of what they will do after the emergency motion and hearing. But given the political maneuvering around this ruling - including the threat to release migrants in sanctuary cities - perhaps the 9th Circuit wants to help settle the law on the issue."