Appeals court puts on hold ruling blocking asylum change

Cheryl Sanders
September 12, 2019

[Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo] Ebrard said both McAleenan and President Trump, whom he spoke to briefly after the meeting, asked him about his government agreeing to a "safe third country" accord, which would require most migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum or some form of protection there, instead of in the U.S. Under economic pressure from the Trump administration, the Guatemalan government has already consented to a similar controversial agreement that has yet to be ratified by the legislature there.

The administration announced in July a new policy that would deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on their way to the US without seeking protection there first, therefore effecting nearly all migrants who arrive at the US-Mexico border.

A United States district judge had blocked the policy from going into effect nationwide - days after it was unveiled in July - but the Supreme Court chose to reverse the decision in a brief order late in the day.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, writing that court's decision disregards "longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution". Tigar issued a new order on Monday that reimposed a nationwide hold on asylum policy.

Trump celebrated the decision on Twitter, praising the "BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!".

President Trump said he disagreed with the judge's ruling, and the idea of single federal judges issuing nationwide injunctions in general - a phenomenon that has exploded under his administration.

Under the new rules, migrants would be barred from seeking asylum in the USA if they have traveled through a third "safe country" en route to the American border, unless they also applied for asylum in that country.

Eight days after the rule went into effect in July, California-based U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued a nationwide injunction blocking it. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed Tigar's order so that it applied only in Arizona and California, states that are within the 9th Circuit.

The goal of the rule is to close the gap between initial screenings and hearings.

The policy overturns long-standing convention that the U.S. hears asylum claims however people have arrived at the border.

The policy is among a host of measures Trump has taken in a bid to stem the flow of Central American migrants trying to cross into the United States from Mexico and request asylum.

The high-court action leaves the administration free to impose the new policy everywhere while the court case against it continues.

The American Civil Liberties Union and others who challenged the administration's policy in federal court said it violates USA immigration law and accused the administration of failing to follow the correct legal process in issuing the rule, which was unveiled on July 15. "The lives of thousands of families are at stake".

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