The Supreme Court permitted enforcement of a new Trump administration rule that prevents migrants from Central America from seeking asylum in the United States. The justices' order temporarily undoes a lower court ruling that had stopped the imposition of new asylum policy in some of the southern border states.
Most Central American migrants crossing the southern border, flee due to violence and poverty. These desperate migrants, who are largely ineligible under the new Trump rule, are asylum seekers from Africa, Asia, and South America who arrive at the southern border hopefully every day.
The shift reverses decades of U.S. policy. The administration explained that it wishes to close the gap between an initial asylum screening due to which most people cross the gap and a final decision on asylum that most people do not win. President Donald Trump tweeted:
BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum! https://t.co/9Ka00qK1Ob— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019
Contrary to the High Court’s order, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor objected. "Once again, the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution," Sotomayor wrote.
The legal challenge to the new Trump administration policy has a brief but somewhat convoluted history. The policy was prevented the new policy from taking effect in late July by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed Tigar's order so that it applied to states that are within the 9th Circuit, Arizona and California only.
Tigar issued a new order on Monday that reimposed a nationwide hold on asylum policy. The 9th Circuit again narrowed his order on Tuesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing immigrant advocacy groups in the case, Lee Gelernt, said: "This is just a temporary step, and we're hopeful we'll prevail at the end of the day. The lives of thousands of families are at stake."
Justice Department spokesperson Alexei Woltornist said the agency was "pleased that the Supreme Court intervened in this case," adding, "This action will assist the Administration in its objectives to bring order to the crisis at the southern border, close loopholes in our immigration system, and discourage frivolous claims."