Court ruling undercuts Homeland Security chief’s warning to migrants at U.S.-Mexico border

SAN DIEGO — Embattled U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen repeatedly warned thousands of mostly Central American migrants traveling in a caravan to Tijuana against entering the U.S. illegally, threatening them with prosecution and deportation. 

But her warning Tuesday carried less weight after a ruling Monday from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision temporarily blocked President Donald Trump from limiting the migrants’ right to seek asylum if they enter the country outside designated ports of entry.

“Let me be clear, this court from a chamber in San Francisco has replaced the president’s judgment with regards to the fully delegated authority to determine what is a true national security threat to our nation’s sovereignty,” Nielsen told reporters. “This is a dangerous ruling, and given last year’s Supreme Court ruling on this issue, will undoubtedly be overturned.”

Her comments preceded a written statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders warning that the judge’s decision would “open the floodgates” for more migrants to enter the country illegally. 

“This temporary injunction is yet another example of activist judges imposing their open borders policy preferences, which are rejected by the overwhelming majority of the American people, and interfering with the executive branch’s authority to administer the immigration system in a manner that ensures the Nation’s safety, security, and the rule of law,” Sanders said in the statement.

Nielsen said the Trump administration will abide by Monday’s ruling, throwing a wrench into their enforcement crackdown in Southern California, as thousands of migrants remain in limbo in Tijuana, while thousands more continue making their way to that border community. 

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“We will follow all laws and judicial rulings,” Nielsen said. “But we will also be appealing it as quickly as possible. I have no doubt that we will be successful.”

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