Perilous Times

Perilous Times to be a Migrant, Refugee, Asylum-Seeker, Displaced or Homeless Person: U.S. Supreme Court allows Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ asylum policy

Perilous Times to be a Migrant, Refugee, Asylum-Seeker, Displaced or Homeless Person:  U.S. Supreme Court allows Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ asylum policy

By Lawrence Hurley Reuters•March 11, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday handed a win to President Donald Trump by leaving in effect a policy that requires thousands of people seeking asylum at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their claims are adjudicated.

The court granted an emergency request filed by the administration and lifted a partial block on the program imposed by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court on Feb. 28 issued a ruling blocking the policy but then immediately put it on hold while the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

The brief court order noted that one of the nine justices, liberal Sonia Sotomayor, would have denied the application.

“Asylum seekers face grave danger and irreversible harm every day this depraved policy remains in effect,” said Judy Rabinovitz, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents those challenging the policy.

Trump has declared the policy, announced in December 2018, a success in reducing the flow of hundreds of thousands of people from Central America into the United States as he campaigns for a second term in office.

Challengers, including 11 asylum seekers who were returned to Mexico and several immigration advocacy groups, say the program, called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), violates U.S. immigration law and international obligations on the treatment of asylum seekers.

“The Migrant Protection Protocols, implemented pursuant to express authority granted by Congress decades ago, have been critical to restoring the government’s ability to manage the Southwest border and to work cooperatively with the Mexican government to address illegal immigration,” a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement.

About 60,000 people have been sent back to Mexico to await the outcome of their cases in often dangerous border towns where they are vulnerable to kidnapping, rape, robbery and other crimes while living in sometimes unsanitary conditions. The government says 36,000 cases have now been resolved and warned that those with pending claims might have rushed the border if the policy was partially blocked.

Trump, who has made cracking down on immigration a central theme of his more than three years in the White House, has sought, through a series of new policies and rule changes, to reduce asylum claims..

The policies on curbing asylum applications have cut the number of illegal crossings and have been more successful than Trump’s efforts to build a physical barrier on the border.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Kristina Cooke; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown)

Supreme Court Lets Trump Make Asylum-Seekers Stay in Mexico

Greg Stohr Bloomberg•March 11, 2020

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Supreme Court backed the Trump administration on a key border policy, letting the government keep enforcing a rule that has forced 60,000 people to wait in Mexico while they seek asylum.

The justices, over a dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, blocked a federal appeals court decision that would have let future asylum seekers stay in the U.S. temporarily while their applications are being processed. The appeals court ruling, which would have applied to new applicants in California and Arizona, was set to take effect Thursday.

The Supreme Court action suggests the justices are likely to uphold the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “remain in Mexico” program, should they take up the challenge directly at some point. Neither the court nor Sotomayor gave any reasons.

The high court order also averts what President Donald Trump’s administration argued would have been a “rush to the border” if the appeals court decision had taken effect. Crowds of migrants gathered at border crossings in February after that court issued the ruling.

“The injunction is virtually assured to cause chaos at the border, thereby seriously compromising the government’s compelling interests in safety and in the integrity of our borders,” U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in court papers.

‘Humanitarian Crisis’

Opponents represented by the American Civil Liberties Union say the asylum seekers are being exposed to kidnapping, assault and rape in Mexico. The group said the policy violates U.S. obligations under domestic and international law not to send people to places where they will suffer persecution or torture.

The policy “has created a humanitarian crisis on Mexico’s northern border, putting asylum seekers in harm’s way, increasing the burden on local Mexican cities, and triggering an increase in nativism and xenophobia,” the ACLU argued.

The opponents said a trial judge’s order upheld by the appeals court would apply to a limited number of people, including the ACLU’s clients and new asylum applicants, and wouldn’t require the immediate re-entry of people previously forced to stay in Mexico.

The New York Times reported last week that the administration was sending troops to the border in anticipation of action by the Supreme Court. The administration told the high court that 25,000 of the 60,000 people sent to Mexico still have pending asylum claims.

“We are gratified that the Supreme Court granted a stay, which prevents a district court injunction from impairing the security of our borders and the integrity of our immigration system,” the Justice Department said in an emailed statement after the court acted.

Judy Rabinovitz, a lawyer with the ACLU, said asylum seekers “face grave danger and irreversible harm every day this depraved policy remains in effect.”

She added, “The Court of Appeals unequivocally declared this policy to be illegal. The Supreme Court should as well.”

The Supreme Court last year backed Trump on a separate border issue, clearing his administration to enforce a new rule that sharply limited who can apply for asylum at the southern border. That rule requires people who came from countries other than Mexico to first apply for protection from one of the countries they passed through on the way to the border.

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