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Judge Allows 5 Central American Asylum Seekers to Enter US

FILE - A residential neighborhood of Juarez, Mexico, and U.S. Border Patrol vehicles on both sides of a border fence as seen from El Paso Texas, on April 22, 2020.

Five Central American asylum seekers ordered to remain in Mexico by federal authorities will be able to reunite with their families in Massachusetts until their immigration cases are decided, a federal judge in Boston ruled Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the three women and two young children had been living in dangerous conditions in the Mexican border town of Matamoros.

The organization said the five people — four from Guatemala and one from El Salvador — were exposed to violence and persecution in Mexico and their immigration hearings in the U.S. have been severely delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Emails seeking comment were left Friday for spokespersons for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is named in the lawsuit.

The ACLU previously reached a similar settlement on behalf of a Guatemalan family seeking asylum.

Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers from certain Spanish-speaking nations, including Guatemala and El Salvador, are waiting out the U.S. immigration court process in Mexico as part of the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols, which took effect January 2019.

American authorities have said the "Remain in Mexico" policy has helped significantly reduce illegal border crossings. Civil rights groups complain it violates constitutional rights.