Commentary

Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump's Asylum Rules After Conservative Justice Flips

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday dealt a major blow to President Donald Trump, declaring that his proposed rule change for border asylum will be thrown out as invalid.

Trump previously tried to restrict who can officially request asylum after entering the United States. His plan would have limited asylum for people who crossed the border illegally, and required that anybody who wanted to make this claim enter the country at an official port of entry.

According to Reuters, Chief Justice John Roberts, a generally conservative judge nominated by President George W. Bush, cast the key vote — and it was against Trump’s policy.

“Roberts, who last month rebuked Trump over his criticism of the judiciary, joined liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor against the administration,” the news wire stated.

“Trump’s two high court appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, joined the two other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, in dissent,” Reuters continued.

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The president’s push to limit who can seek asylum was triggered by the recent rush of migrants who come north via “caravans” through Central America and Mexico. Some of those caravan members recently clashed with U.S. Border Patrol after trying to enter the country illegally.

Unsurprisingly, liberals cheered the court’s decision and held it up as a major win against Trump.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to leave the asylum ban blocked will save lives and keep vulnerable families and children from persecution. We are pleased the court refused to allow the administration to short-circuit the usual appellate process,” declared Lee Gelernt from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Seeking asylum has been used recently as a sort of “back door” tactic for entering and staying in the United States.

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While originally intended for people who are clearly fleeing a specific persecution — Jews escaping Nazi Germany is a classic example — many migrants have been vaguely claiming hardship because their home country has high crime and general instability.

“On Wednesday, a different judge blocked another of Trump’s asylum-related orders, this one aimed at restricting asylum claims by people citing gang or domestic violence in their home countries,” Reuters explained.

The use of asylum has also been a controversial topic because many Hispanic caravan migrants admit when interviewed that they want to enter the United States for economic or job reasons, not because they’re fleeing targeted persecution back home.

While the Supreme Court decision is certainly not the end of the border debate, it is definitely a disappointing result for Trump and many conservatives.

The ruling also raises more questions. One of the biggest centers on official ports of entry. If refugees truly qualify for asylum because of persecution, then what is the problem with asking them to show up at an official border checkpoint to begin that process?

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Despite the frequent narratives, most conservatives are not against immigration, they’d just prefer it if people showing up followed the rules and used the front door instead of sneaking through the back window.

What the court ruling has essentially done is encourage more illegal border crossing. Asylum can now be used as a backup tactic– ignore ports of entry, cross the border illegally, and just declare asylum if you happen to get caught. It will be interesting to see how this change plays out in the coming months.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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