The authorities today began to apply government regulations to deny asylum to undocumented migrants on the southern border who have passed through Mexico or other countries without having asked there for this protection, after the Supreme Court gave its backing to this measure on Wednesday.
“The Supreme Court’s decision means that asylum seekers who come to the U.S. through a third country must first apply for asylum there before they are granted asylum in the U.S.,” expert Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, told Efe.
The High Court gave a temporary green light yesterday to President Donald Trump’s executive to deny asylum to undocumented immigrants, mostly Central Americans, at the border.
The decision, made with seven votes in favor and two against, is not final but is being enforced while the legal battle continues in other lower courts.
Even so, the Supreme Court suspends with its ruling the ruling of a lower court that had blocked that measure.
At the end of July, the Trump Administration announced changes in its asylum policy that prevented most undocumented immigrants from seeking protection after crossing the southern border into Mexico.
A federal judge in California quickly blocked the measure, triggering a lawsuit that went as far as the Supreme Court.
Maureen Meyer, director of the Mexico program at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), reminded Efe that the High Court’s decision is temporary until other lower courts determine whether the government’s asylum regulations are legal or illegal.
Meanwhile, officials “have the power to reject any asylum seeker on the U.S. southern border who has passed through another country that has a functional asylum system, that is, Mexico, Guatemala or any other country,” Meyer said.
However, Mukherjee was hopeful that there will finally be a favorable ruling in lower courts for asylum seekers: “I hope the judiciary will help protect asylum seekers because the Supreme Court’s decision puts them at risk”.
Both experts predicted that the outcome of this judicial process could occur in the coming months, although they did not rule out that it could be extended until next year.
In that sense, Mukherjee stressed that, although there is no established timetable, “it could take a long time, although as it is a matter of national security, it can be resolved in the coming months”.
Be that as it may, in Meyer’s opinion, “what the Trump government has shown is that any ruling by a lower court will be appealed and will seek a speedy way for the Supreme Court to resolve it”.
And is that currently there are two disputes in this regard in two minor courts pending resolution, which, however, could be appealed to the Supreme.
“The most serious thing is that in these months a program is being implemented whose legality is very questionable,” lamented the WOLA expert.
So far several decisions on immigration launched by the Executive Trump have ended up in court, but the president has the letter from the Supreme Court.
The country’s highest court now has a conservative majority of its judges (five conservatives versus four progressives), after Trump nominated two justices in less than two years.
Since coming to power in January 2017, the president has made asylum one of his political objectives, as he believes there is an abuse of the system that immigrants take advantage of to enter and work in the country.
In recent months, the southern border has seen an increase in arrivals of Central American asylum seekers with their families and there are about 436,000 unresolved petitions according to official data.
May was the busiest month since 2006, with the detention of more than 132,000 people who crossed the border without permission.
Trump has tried several measures to discourage that migration, such as separating parents from their minor children after crossing the border or returning asylum-seekers to Mexico waiting for their cases to be resolved, but hopes that preventing the petitions will eventually stem the flow.