In a controversial ruling, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a policy change that would turn away asylum seekers at the southern American border. Now, the ACLU is fighting back.
In July of this year, the Trump administration unveiled a new asylum policy that would inhibit grants and place further restrictions on immigration regulation. The legislative changes are expected to worsen the humanitarian crisis occurring at the United States-Mexico border. At the time, however, the federal government described the changes as a way to "enhance the integrity of the asylum process" in an official statement. Now, it appears that the Supreme Court has approved the new immigration policy, despite the fact that it was almost immediately blocked from taking effect by a lower court ruling by a judge in San Francisco. President Donald Trump praised the Supreme Court's decision as a huge victory, the BBC reports.
Among the many limitations proposed as part of the policy change, the most important adjustment will bar immigrants from receiving protection in and from the United States if they failed to do so in a nation they passed through on the way. Therefore, the policy revision will most affect non-Mexican immigrants seeking asylum. This is especially problematic as most immigrants who seek asylum from the United States' southern border are from other countries in Central America—not Mexico. Nonetheless, this policy applies to individuals from other countries beyond the Americas as well. At present, most Central American immigrants pass north through Mexico in order to arrive at the southern border, at which point they must pass a "credible fear" interview so as to be granted asylum. Most do, which is what the Trump administration is attempting to curb.
Liberal Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the only dissenting voices in the vote. Justice Sotomayor asserted, "Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution." Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the United States Justice Department argued that the ruling would "bring order to the crisis at the southern border, close loopholes in our immigration system, and discourage frivolous claims." Despite this, the Supreme Court's decision to approve the changes has received immense backlash — and for the right reason. The Trump administration's policy changes are immensely cruel, ignoring the oppressive political conditions that many Central Americans face in their own countries. Most immigrants who seek asylum in the United States are fleeing violence, poverty, and political instability, much of which can be attributed to American political and economic intervention in Central America. Though legal challenges continue within the judicial system, the policy has been given the green light to be applied and enforced nationwide.
Among those challenging the policy adjustments is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They argued that the change drastically restricted those that the United States recognized as eligible for asylum. The ACLU explained in a petition, "The current ban would eliminate virtually all asylum at the southern border, even at ports of entry, for everyone except Mexicans." Though the Supreme Court ruling has proven a setback in their fight against the immigration policy changes, a lawyer for the group described it as a "temporary step," remaining confident that the ruling, too, could be challenged. As the policy changes end the United States' longstanding tradition of accepting asylum seekers fleeing dangerous situations no matter how they arrived in the country, they have been deeply controversial. Yet, the battle for global equity rages on and opponents to the ruling hope to build a future where the United States can once again be the "land of the free."