March 5 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court has allowed the Trump administration to keep its controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy in place in Texas and New Mexico while it readies a Supreme Court challenge.
The ruling Wednesday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, however, prevents the government from enforcing the policy unless the Supreme Court intervenes before March 12.
The court said, though, its decision last week to block to the policy will remain in effect for California and Arizona, as both states are under its jurisdiction.
While again declaring the Migrant Protection Protocols policy illegal, the court's move leaves the issue to the Supreme Court to settle.
Wednesday's decision gave the government more time to fight its legal battle to save the policy, but also means asylum seekers and migrants arriving at border points in California and Arizona will be allowed to await the outcomes of their cases in the United States, which was the standard practice under previous administrations.
The appellate court last week upheld a lower court injunction stopping the policy, by which tens of thousands of asylum seekers remain in Mexico to await their U.S. hearings.
The Trump administration policy is an effort to restrict migrants' access to U.S. soil and reduce a surge of migration by Central American families. Last year, more than 470,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, and most were allowed to remain in the United States to await their hearings.
The San Francisco court found, however, the policy contradicts federal laws that allow asylum-seekers to wait the United States unless they have criminal records. It also said the rule runs afoul of a binding treaty that bars sending immigrants to nations where their lives or freedom would be in danger.