| Written by Sally Moore |

A highly anticipated Supreme Court decision was announced late on Wednesday, September 11, moving the country one step closer to Immigration Asylum reform. The SCOTUS ruling allows broad, nationwide enforcement of the new rules which will prevent most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States.  Early this summer, President Trump announced the change to current asylum regulations which were, predictably, met with immediate legal challenges-now working their way through the lower courts. Wednesday afternoon, when the decision was announced, President Trump tweeted, “Big U.S. Supreme Court Win for Border on Asylum.”

The SCOTUS order released late Wednesday, September 11, temporarily halts a lower court ruling which had blocked the new asylum policy in some states along the southern border.  The policy is intended to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking asylum protection there. The common sense move hopes to curtail the incentive of caravans streaming up from Central America, through Mexico to the U.S.

United States Supreme Court Building in Washington DC, USA.

As has been previously reported by Blessings Through Action News, over the past several years thousands of Central Americans have been traveling north to escape poverty, violence and political upheaval ongoing throughout those Latin American countries. Those coming are mostly ineligible for asylum under the new rule as well as the old; as are asylum seekers from all over the world who have begun to arrive regularly at the U.S. southern border.

Often noting that many are taking advantage of our system, the Trump administration has consistently promised to mend the loopholes in U.S. immigration policy and close the gap between the initial asylum screening that most people pass and a final decision on asylum that most applicants fail. 

Only two justices voted against the order. The dissenting voices were liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.  Justice Sotomayor wrote, “Once again, the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.” The Justice did not address why fearful, fleeing immigrants could not seek shelter from persecution and apply for asylum in any of the countries encountered on the long journey to arrive at a U.S. Port of Entry.

The legal challenge to the policy has had an interesting, ping-pong path over the summer.  U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco blocked the new policy from taking effect in late July.  A three judge panel of the very liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed Tigar’s controversial order so it only applied to Arizona and California- both states within the 9th Circuit.

Until the matter could be taken to a higher court, this ruling left the administration able to enforce the asylum policy to those making application in New Mexico and Texas. Judge Tigar issued a new order on Monday that re-imposed a nationwide hold on the asylum policy.  Then, the 9th Circuit again narrowed his order on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s high-court action allows the administration to impose their new policy everywhere- as an interim measure- while the court case against it continues. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, Lee Gelernt, representing immigrant advocacy groups in the case stated, “This is just a temporary step, and we are hopeful we will prevail at the end of the day.  The lives of thousands of families are at stake.” Gelernt did not offer an opinion on why these thousands of hopeful families could not make application for asylum closer to their problematic home countries.

An Associated Press report by Mark Sherman quoted Justice Department spokesman Alexei Woltornist, “The agency was pleased the Supreme Court intervened in this case.”  He added, “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.”