High court gives Trump go-ahead on asy­lum pol­icy

Lifts in­junc­tion on de­nials to slow surge from Mex­ico


The Supreme Court cleared the way Wed­nes­day for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to deny asy­lum to mi­grants from other coun­tries who travel through Mex­ico to reach the U.S., giv­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion a ma­jor win as it tries to stop the surge of asy­lum claims and il­le­gal cross­ings at the bor­der.

The move over­rides a na­tion­wide in­junc­tion put into place by a dis­trict court in Cal­i­for­nia that blocked the asy­lum crack­down from tak­ing ef­fect, al­low­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to im­ple­ment the pol­icy while the lower court con­tin­ues to hear ar­gu­ments on its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity.

Jus­tices So­nia So­tomayor and Ruth Bader Gins­burg dis­sented, say­ing they be­lieved it likely the pres­i­dent broke pro­ce­dural law in an­nounc­ing the pol­icy with­out go­ing through all the reg­u­la­tory hoops.

“Once again the ex­ec­u­tive branch has is­sued a rule that seeks to up­end long­stand­ing prac­tices re­gard­ing refugees who seek shel­ter from per­se­cu­tion,” Jus­tice So­tomayor wrote in the dis­sent.

The pol­icy, is­sued in July, was in­tended to dis­cour­age mi­grants from Cen­tral Amer­ica who have streamed north in re­cent months, pre­pared to make iffy asy­lum claims and then count on the back­logged U.S. sys­tem and lax stan­dards for ini­tial claims to earn them a foothold in the U.S.

Only about 1 in 5 will ul­ti­mately be granted asy­lum, an­a­lysts say, but the de­ci­sion could take years. By that time, the mi­grants will have dis­ap­peared into the shad­ows among the 11 mil­lion or more il­le­gal im­mi­grants al­ready in the U.S.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy says those truly flee­ing po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious or other per­se­cu­tion — the cases for which asy­lum is in­tended — could have asked for it in Mex­ico, which is deemed a safe coun­try.

If peo­ple from coun­tries other than Mex­ico don’t do this but in­stead tra­verse that coun­try to get to the U.S., that sug­gests they’re not le­git­i­mate asy­lum seek­ers but rather reg­u­lar mi­grants seek­ing bet­ter jobs or to unite with fam­ily, which are not usu­ally valid rea­sons for asy­lum un­der U.S. law, the ad­min­is­tra­tion pol­icy states.

More than 327,000 asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions were pend­ing as of March this year, ac­cord­ing to Fox News, com­pared with 35,811 claims in 2009.

Although the Supreme Court’s move isn’t a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the mer­its and the case is still pend­ing, Pres­i­dent Trump cel­e­brated its or­der on Twit­ter.

“BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Bor­der on Asy­lum!” he tweeted.

Mr. Trump’s crit­ics were dis­mayed by the pres­i­dent’s court vic­tory and said the ef­fect will be some le­git­i­mate asy­lum seek­ers will be turned back or made to wait in Mex­ico, where they could face dan­gers in a coun­try not up to the safety stan­dards of the U.S.

“Lives will be lost,” said Demo­cratic Reps. Jer­rold Nadler of New York and Zoe Lof­gren of Cal­i­for­nia, the chairs of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and its im­mi­gra­tion sub­com­mit­tee. “This rule will re­sult in those flee­ing fear and per­se­cu­tion to be turned away at our doorstep and will only ex­ac­er­bate the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the re­gion. The United States can and must do bet­ter.”

United We Dream went fur­ther in its crit­i­cism, sug­gest­ing that the jus­tices were en­abling racism.

“The Supreme Court is do­ing the work for Don­ald Trump to ful­fill his white na­tion­al­ist agenda of a coun­try with fewer im­mi­grants and refugees,” said Adrian Reyna, strat­egy di­rec­tor for the group. “Al­low­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion to con­tinue deny­ing asy­lum cases puts thou­sands of black and brown peo­ple from Cen­tral Amer­ica at risk.”

But ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said smug­glers had fig­ured out how to ex­ploit the loop­hole, coach­ing mi­grants on “magic words” to use to de­mand asy­lum at the bor­der.

Mr. Trump pleaded with Congress to close the loop­hole but met with re­sis­tance from Democrats, forcing his team to take ac­tion on its own.

“This kind of abuse cre­ates il­licit cash flows to vi­o­lent crim­i­nals, frus­trates the ef­forts of le­git­i­mate asy­lum seek­ers and un­der­mines the in­tegrity of our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem,” said Ken Cuc­cinelli, act­ing di­rec­tor of U.S. Citizenshi­p and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices.

Wed­nes­day’s move is the lat­est win for Mr. Trump with the jus­tices. In late July, the court over­turned an­other lower court’s in­junc­tion and let the pres­i­dent pro­ceed with the con­struc­tion of bor­der walls as part of his bor­der emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion ear­lier this year.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has an even bigger im­mi­gra­tion showdown loom­ing be­fore the court over Mr. Trump’s ef­fort to phase out the Obama-era De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­ri­cals de­por­ta­tion amnesty for il­le­gal im­mi­grant “Dreamers.”

The asy­lum-re­lated in­junc­tion was lifted just days af­ter a fed­eral court re­in­stated it Mon­day, sid­ing with im­mi­grant rights groups that chal­lenged the pol­icy this sum­mer.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Ap­peals said the in­junc­tion by Judge Jon S. Ti­gar for the North­ern Dis­trict of Cal­i­for­nia could reach only as far as the circuit’s ju­ris­dic­tion, which cov­ers nine West­ern states. Only two of those states, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia, share a bor­der with Mex­ico. In the mean­time, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion en­forced its pol­icy in New Mex­ico and Texas, which are in dif­fer­ent cir­cuits.

But the Mon­day rul­ing by Judge Ti­gar, an ap­pointee of Pres­i­dent Obama, at­tempted to re­ex­pand the in­junc­tion across the coun­try, say­ing it was the only remedy to pro­vide com­plete re­lief to the plain­tiffs.

“While many of these clients cross the bor­der in the Ninth Circuit, they ‘move be­tween ju­ris­dic­tions through­out the lifetime of their asy­lum case,’” the judge wrote.

On Tues­day, the 9th Circuit again nar­rowed Judge Ti­gar’s or­der, and the Supreme Court lifted it com­pletely Wed­nes­day, the lat­est case of the jus­tices re­vers­ing broad in­junc­tions by lower judges on Mr. Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. It could presage a showdown at the high court over na­tion­wide in­junc­tions.

Asy­lum re­quests are just one of the “loop­holes” the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been try­ing to close to stem the surge of mi­grants who poured into the U.S. in re­cent months.

Ho­gan Gi­d­ley, the White House’s prin­ci­pal deputy press sec­re­tary, said the court’s move Wed­nes­day will help fix the bro­ken asy­lum sys­tem.

“This greatly helps build on the progress we’ve made ad­dress­ing the cri­sis at our south­ern bor­der and will ul­ti­mately make Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties safer. The dis­trict court’s er­ro­neous na­tion­wide in­junc­tion was an­other in a series of over­reach­ing or­ders that al­lowed a sin­gle, non­elected dis­trict court judge to over­ride pol­icy de­ci­sions for the en­tire na­tion,” he said.


Mi­grants seek­ing asy­lum across the south­west bor­der are be­ing stopped by a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion pol­icy that de­nies them asy­lum if they travel through Mex­ico, which is con­sid­ered a safe coun­try, to reach the U.S.

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