In a major win for the Trump administration, the Supreme Court issued an order late Wednesday ending all injunctions that had blocked the White House’s ban on asylum for anyone trying to enter the U.S. by traveling through a third country, such as Mexico, without seeking protection there.
The Supreme Court’s order was not a final ruling on the policy’s merits but does allow the policy to take effect nationwide, including in the 9th Circuit, while the case makes its way through the lower courts.
President Trump tweeted that the ruling was a “BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!”
The administration had argued in a brief to the Supreme Court that unless the injunctions were totally lifted everywhere, it “would severely disrupt the orderly administration of an already overburdened asylum system.”
The White House, however, said the lower court had overreached in an all-too-familiar manner.
“We are pleased the Supreme Court has ruled our Administration can implement important, needed fixes to the broken asylum system,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said.
“This greatly helps build on the progress we’ve made addressing the crisis at our southern border and will ultimately make American communities safer,” Gidley added.
“The district court’s erroneous nationwide injunction was another in a series of overreaching orders that allowed a single, non-elected district court judge to override policy decisions for the entire Nation. While there is much more work still to be done, thankfully the Supreme Court took a decisive step here and rejected the lower court’s egregious ruling.”
The DOJ also said the ruling would “bring order to the crisis at the southern border, close loopholes in our immigration system, and discourage frivolous claims.”
The Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco made it his mission to block the new policy from taking effect in late July.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed Tigar’s order so that it effectively applied only in Arizona and California, states that are within the 9th Circuit.
That left the administration free to enforce the policy on asylum seekers arriving in New Mexico and Texas. Tigar issued a new order on Monday that reimposed a nationwide hold on asylum policy, citing new evidence.
In his ruling Monday, Tigar stressed a “need to maintain uniform immigration policy” and found that nonprofit organizations such as Al Otro Lado don’t know where asylum seekers who enter the U.S. will end up living and making their case to remain in the country.
President Trump weighed in on the ability of one judge to issue national injunctions. “I think it’s very unfair that he does that,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for a trip to North Carolina. “I don’t think it should be allowed.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that a sole judge shouldn’t have the ability to exert such a broad impact on immigration policy.
“This ruling is a gift to human smugglers and traffickers and undermines the rule of law,” she said.
U.S. law allows refugees to request asylum when they get to the U.S. regardless of how they arrive or cross. The crucial exception is for those who have come through a country considered to be “safe,” but the law is vague on how a country is determined to be safe. It says pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement.
People are generally eligible for asylum in the U.S. if they credibly fear return to their home country because they would be personally persecuted based on race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group.
The Trump administration has reason for optimism now that the case is back in the 9th Circuit. The San Francisco-based appellate court has seven Trump-appointed federal judges — more than any other federal appellate bench.
The radical transformation of the court, which has 29 seats, is largely the result of Trump’s push to nominate conservative judges and bypass traditional consultations with Senate Democrats.
Thanks to Trump’s strategical efforts to nominate more conservative judges, thirteen of the 29 seats are now occupied by GOP-appointed judges. Last year, that number stood at six.
“Thanks to Trump, the liberal 9th Circuit is no longer liberal,” The Washington Post noted earlier this year.