SCOTUS overrules federal judge, unblocks Trump’s asylum rules

Guatemalan asylum seekers turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol in Hidalgo, Texas, U.S., August 23, 2019. © REUTERS/Loren Elliott / Free

The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for President Donald Trump’s new asylum rules to take effect, suspending a pair of injunctions by a California federal judge that had tried to block the controversial policy changes.

The court announced on Wednesday evening it would allow the enforcement of the new rules, pending government appeal of two decisions in the 9th Circuit Court. The new policy takes effect nationwide until then.

Trump celebrated the decision on Twitter, praising the “BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!”

Under the new rules, migrants would be barred from seeking asylum in the US if they have traveled through a third “safe country” en route to the American border, unless they also applied for asylum in that country.

Unveiled in July, the policy was blocked from taking effect by US District Judge Jon Tigar in California almost right away. The effect of that injunction was blunted by the 9th Circuit Court ruling restricting it to Arizona and California. Tigar again sought to put a hold on the policy on Monday, but the Supreme Court blocked both his decisions from taking effect until after the government has completed its appeals.

Two Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented from the ruling.

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

The new policy would severely curtail asylum claims by migrants from Central American countries, currently pouring over the US border in large numbers. It would also put an end to the “caravans” of thousands who trek north from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to reach the US, since they must cross through Mexico and – according to the new rule – apply for asylum there in order to be welcomed at the US border.

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