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By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Image source: Public domain)
Donald Trump needed a win badly. He's been beat up all over the place lately. He received the win on Wednesday when the Supreme Court, that he stacked to side with him, did so, ruling the asylum changes the Trump administration proposed long ago that have been fought in court since the beginning can go ahead as planned while the legal fight continues.
This is a rule change that Trump has long promoted, to deny asylum-seekers' requests and immediately deport them if they traveled through another country without seeking asylum there.
Lower courts in California issued an injunction to freeze the new rule pending additional legal action. A district judge had decided it probably went against a federal statute and administrative law requirements. The Supreme Court justices put the injunction on hold.
Not surprisingly, Trump celebrated on Twitter, writing, "BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!"
Trump also tweeted that he had "an excellent telephone conversation" with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador regarding border security and other important issues.
There was also a meeting between U.S. and Mexico delegates this week to check in on the situation at Mexico's southern border. Trump threatened them with tariffs, and they complied by blocking migrants coming into Mexico before they hit the U.S. But they still refuse to be designated a safe third country.
A vote was not recorded in the Supreme Court judgement, but both Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg let their feelings be known in a dissent.
"Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution," wrote Sotomayor.
"Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees — and although the stakes for asylum-seekers could not be higher — the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law."
The court's majority did not give a reason for putting the lower court's injunction on hold. Once all the legal challenges have been decided, the case is likely to end up back in the Supreme Court again.
Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director, wrote on Twitter that the Trump administration "uses every tool in the toolbox to try and solve the crisis at our southern border. @USCIS will commence implementing the asylum rule ASAP."
One of the asylum rule's challengers, American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt, vowed that the challenges will continue.
"This is just a temporary step, and we're hopeful we'll prevail at the end of the day," he said in a statement. "The lives of thousands of families are at stake."
"Allowing the ban to go into effect would not only upend four decades of unbroken practice, but would place countless people, including families and unaccompanied children, at grave risk," he wrote, adding that the administration's cry of a border crisis "cannot justify ignoring the laws Congress passed."
Sotomayor wrote something similar: "The rule the Government promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere — without affording the public a chance to weigh in."
She took time away from that argument to also write that she was disturbed by the way the administration immediately jumps to ask the justices to step in every time a ruling doesn't go Trump's way, rather than letting the normal legal process run its course.
Between the move that Mexico has made to bolster its security at its southern border and Trump's wish for it to be a safe third country, as well as Guatemala, it effectively shuts down anyone from reaching the U.S. anyway. It seems like overkill.
Aside from that, these people have to go somewhere. The border was bursting at its seams, so the Trump administration is pushing them out. But they have to go somewhere. Where will they go? Back to the dire situation they left?
Another rule change is for migrants to wait in Mexico for their asylum cases to be heard in the U.S. If the U.S. is also sending asylum-seekers to Mexico because they didn't seek asylum in another country before they reached the U.S., Mexico will become very full, very quickly, and they'll need to start making their own rule changes.
But definitely the group being the most affected will be the migrants themselves. They are already fleeing crime, poverty, and other hazards. Bouncing them back means they either stay in Mexico or have to go back home to whatever horrors they were escaping.
Migrants are going to just keep getting repeatedly victimized.
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