Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Supreme Court clears the way for new asylum restrictions to take effect

Donald J. Trump Donald J. Trump
Steven Clarke | 12 September, 2019, 14:45

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of new Trump administration rules that bar migrants from seeking asylum in the USA if they have traveled through a third country and failed to seek asylum there.

This is another win for the Trump administration at the Supreme Court which will now be able to enforce a tough new rule limiting who can apply for asylum in the United States.

"Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution", Sotomayor wrote, joined by Ginsburg, later referring to "some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere".

The policy is among a host of measures Trump has taken in a bid to stem the flow of Central American migrants trying to cross into the USA from Mexico and request asylum.

The court said in a ruling the administration was allowed to block asylum claims from applicants who passed through another country to reach the US without making such a request earlier along their route. The administration has claimed that it would like to shut the gap in between an preliminary asylum screening that most people today move and a ultimate determination on asylum that most men and women do not acquire.

Unveiled in July, the policy was blocked from taking effect by US District Judge Jon Tigar in California nearly right away. New Mexico and Texas remained under the White House order. Tigar, an appointee of President Barack Obama, first halted the policy in July, saying the injunction "would vindicate the public's interest - which our existing immigration laws clearly articulate - in ensuring that we do not deliver aliens into the hands of their persecutors".

The new policy would severely curtail asylum claims by migrants from Central American countries, now pouring over the United States border in large numbers.

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While it is not a final ruling on the issue, the decision is nonetheless a major victory for Trump and his effort to restrict immigration because it allows the asylum ban to be enforced at the southern border while the dispute wends its way through the courts. The 9th Circuit Court upheld this order, but restricted its reach to California and Arizona.

Facing a surge in asylum claims by Central American and other migrants who have been crossing the southern USA border in record numbers, the Trump administration has been desperate to clamp down.

The rule change overturns long-standing convention that the USA hears asylum claims no matter how people have arrived at the border.

The rule change means they would fail had they not claimed asylum in another country they had first passed through.

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".

Last week, Attorney General William Barr condemned nationwide injunctions in an opinion piece, signaling the Trump administration might be preparing to go after the practice before the Supreme Court. "The lives of thousands of families are at stake".

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