In a decision that has terrible implications for both the Supreme Court's approach to basic "rule of law" considerations and for asylum seekers along the Southern border, on September 11, 2019, the Court temporarily allowed the Trump Administration to implement a radical new policy restricting the right to claim asylum for people traveling through third countries who reach the US Southern border. I quote from the online immigration news source "Documented,"
"The Supreme Court granted the Trump administration a major boost Wednesday after a ban on asylum for people who've traveled through a third country was allowed to go into effect, even as the policy makes its way through the courts. The asylum ban will largely affect Central Americans and will have huge ramifications across the southern border. The Supreme Court's decision left immigration advocates stunned while administration officials celebrated the ruling.
The ruling will all but halt asylum on the southern border as Hondurans and Salvadorans must now seek asylum in Guatemala and be rejected before trying in the U.S. Guatemalan migrants must similarly seek asylum in Mexico and be rejected. Mexicans will still be able to seek asylum in the U.S., but they account for a small percentage of the people apprehended on the southern border. Immigrants may still apply for cancellation of removal, but that is much harder to attain.
Asylum officers were ordered to commence implementing the rule immediately. One asylum officer told BuzzFeed they were crushed after seeing the Supreme Court’s ruling. But USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, who oversees asylum officers, was overjoyed at the news. After an event hosted by Axios, he reportedly said the asylum ban ruling could help decrease the refugee cap number, which the Trump administration is considering slashing for a third time.
Two federal judges had previously issued conflicting rulings on the ban. On the same day in July, Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a federal judge in Washington appointed by Trump, upheld the ban while Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco, an Obama appointee, issued a nationwide injunction against it. That nationwide block was narrowed in August before Judge Tigar reinstated it.
The Supreme Court issued a brief, unsigned order, allowing the administration to implement the rule in response to an emergency application filed by the government in response to Tigar’s ruling. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented the ruling. The case will likely appear before the Supreme Court again, but not for many months."
My prediction is that this terrible new policy will not prevent desperate people from south of the border seeking asylum, but will instead redirect the "traffic" to the seas. We know from the migrant crisis in Europe that thousands of migrants have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe in flimsy boats. If people face existential threats to their lives in their home countries, nothing will deter them. We can expect to see a massive wave of "boat people" undertaking the dangerous seaborne journey in the Gulf of Mexico, and perhaps the US West Coast, to bypass the countries between their home country and the United States in order to seek refuge here. By its terms, this policy will not apply to them. But, if I'm correct, we will see the disgusting spectacle of people dying at sea while the US Government physically tries to prevent them landing on the US coasts either in the Gulf of Mexico or Southern California.
If it happens, “You heard it first here."
O'Neill Immigration Law Firm