U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

A federal appeals court has stayed a ruling barring the Trump administration’s policy forcing Central American asylum seekers to return to Mexico to wait for their cases to be heard.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday afternoon issued a temporary stay of a preliminary injunction order issued this week by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District.

The injunction was set to go into effect Friday evening at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

But the panel—made up of Circuit Judges Diarmuid O’Scannlain, William Fletcher and Paul Watford—has stayed Seeborg’s nationwide injunction until it can hear the government’s emergency motion. It set a Tuesday morning deadline for plaintiffs in the case to file an opposition to the government’s request.

On Monday, Seeborg blocked the Trump administration’s policy. He found that the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” implemented late last year were not authorized by Congress under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and even if they were, they didn’t provide proper safeguards to meet the government’s obligation not to return any alien to a territory where his or her “life or freedom would be threatened.”

The ruling marked the second time in as many months that Seeborg had issued a ruling finding that an administration policy violated the Administrative Procedure Act. In March, the judge found that the administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census was “arbitrary and capricious.”