The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Trump administration’s bid to enforce a strict new asylum policy, in a 5-4 decision which is the second legal setback this week for efforts to tighten immigration rules, Fox News informed.
The court issued a written order rejecting the bid to start enforcing an asylum ban for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
This decision backs the lower-court rulings that blocked the administration from immediately rejecting asylum to people who do not go through official border crossings. An open-ended nationwide injunction on enforcement issued by a San Francisco-based federal judge this week prompted the Justice Department to ask for immediate relief from the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice John Roberts provided the critical vote against the administration Friday, standing on the side of the four liberal judges. Newly confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh and three other conservatives on the bench sided with the administration, the order said.
The ongoing legal challenge had its start in California, where the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently adopted a decision contrary to the administration, saying that the policy was likely “inconsistent” with the existing law.
Trump has stated that this was just a response to the caravans of migrants who are trying to make their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Supreme Court order comes after a federal judge in a separate case took an extraordinary step this week and ordered that asylum seekers who sued after they were deported should be returned to the U.S. to have their claims heard again.
By doing so the U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan blocked the policies that could prevent immigrants who claim to have suffered gang violence or domestic abuse in their home countries from seeking asylum.
As a response to this ruling, the White House said that it “will further overwhelm our immigration courts with meritless cases, making the existing massive backlog even worse.”
Despite setbacks in the courts, the administration is moving forward with other changes.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced Thursday that the U.S. has secured an agreement with Mexico so that immigrants claiming asylum will be returned to Mexico as their cases are processed — a bid to end the practice known as “catch-and-release.”
Nielsen made the announcement at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, telling the committee that the goal is to crack down on migrants falsely claiming asylum, only to be released into the U.S. and escape the radar of immigration officials.
“But by the time the courts have issued their orders, most of these illegal aliens have vanished within our country for good,” she said. “They have escaped the law, undermined the system, and made it harder for us to actually help real asylum-seekers by flooding the system with false claims.”