The Supreme Court turned back the Trump administration’s attempt to enforce a ban on granting asylum requests to illegal immigrants on the basis of where they enter the United States.
But in a 5-4 ruling, the nation’s highest court said that’s an unacceptable way to limit immigration.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s latest appointee, sided with the minority. Chief Justice John Roberts voted against the administration, joining the court’s four most liberal members.
Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts sided with liberal justices against the Trump administration on Friday, turning back an appeal of a lower court ruling that bloked one of the president’s policies on asylum-seeking illegal immigrants
Trump’s November executive order was meant to slow down the flow of illegal immigrants hopping the border, including caravans of thousands of Central Americans traveling the length of Mexico
Neither side issued written opinions describing their rationale for blocking the administration’s appeal.
While the case advanced through the federal courts, the Homeland Security and Justice Departments announced a separate policy that keeps migrants on the Mexican side of the border, instead of releasing them into the interior of the country, while they await asylum hearings.
It’s unclear if Friday’s ruling will affect that policy’s implementation, although Mexico has agreed to cooperate.
The Supreme Court’s action upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge John Tigar, who drew Trump’s ire by issuing an injunction to stop the selective asylum-granting from taking effect.
Tigar’s order came in a lawsuit that could still take a year or more to resolve; Friday’s decision concerned only the temporary hold Tigar put on the policy while the suit proceeds.
Tigar found that federal law allows immigrants to request asylum status no matter how they reach U.S. soil.
That Nov. 19 ruling drew an exasperated Trump to lash out at him as an ‘Obama judge,’ leading Roberts to issue a rare personal rebuke of the president.
Trump’s latest policy directives came in response to caravans of Central Americans making their way through Mexico.
While some are likely genuine asylum cases, many are in search of work in the United States.
Only about 15 per cent of asylum seekers who cross into the U.S. illegally are ultimately granted that status once judges hear their cases.
The judicial backlog, however, stood at more than 311,000 at the beginning of 2018.
Friday’s Supreme Court order came at a tense moment when Trump was trying to outmaneuver Senate Democrats on a government funding package whose failure could shut a quarter of the government at midnight.
The central issue of that conflict is the president’s long-sought border wall between Mexico and the United States. He has insisted that it’s a needed measure to shore up border security.