- Critics say the new policy effectively bans asylum bids for most Central American migrants at the border.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Trump administration may go forward with new limits on migrants seeking asylum at the border while those restrictions are challenged in court.
Under the new policy, officials can deny asylum to many migrants unless they can show they previously tried and failed to obtain asylum in another country along their way to the U.S.
The Supreme Court’s temporary order comes two days after a federal judge reinstated a nationwide injunction barring the administration from enforcing the policy.
“We are pleased the Supreme Court has ruled our Administration can implement important, needed fixes to the broken asylum system,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.
Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of the immigrant rights group Families Belong Together, denounced the high court’s ruling.
“All parents want freedom and opportunity for their children,” she said in a statement. “But when it comes to the American Dream, Trump and his Republican allies are saying ‘Latinos need not apply.’”
The departments of Justice and Homeland Security created the new asylum rule on July 16, effectively barring Central Americans who pass through Mexico or another country on their route to the U.S. from applying for asylum at the southern U.S. border.
There are exceptions to the rule for those who have been trafficked, those who sought and were denied asylum in another country, and those who passed through countries that did not sign one of the major international treaties governing refugee resettlement.
In July, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction blocking the administration from enforcing the rule. He determined that the policy was “likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.” U.S. law has long allowed refugees to request asylum when they arrive at the U.S. border, regardless of how they got there.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit later limited the scope of Tigar’s injunction to California and Arizona. But the judge again ruled on Monday that the injunction must be applied across the country in order to maintain a “uniform immigration policy” and to prevent “uneven enforcement.”
The Supreme Court’s unsigned, one-paragraph order will permit the administration to impose its asylum policy in any state while the court case is on appeal.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented from the high court’s ruling. Sotomayor wrote that the administration’s rule undoes “longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.”
“Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees — and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher — the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law,” the justice wrote.
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