Supreme Court Allows Trump to Deny Asylum to Many Central Americans

Leah Millis/Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a request by President Donald Trump’s administration to fully enforce a new rule that would curtail asylum applications by immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, a key element of his hardline immigration policies.

The court said the rule, which requires most immigrants who want asylum to first seek safe haven in a third country through which they traveled on their way to the United States, could go into effect as litigation challenging its legality continues.

Among the nine judges on the court, liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

The court’s ruling handed a victory to Trump at a time when much of his immigration agenda had been struck down by lower courts. “BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!” Trump said on Twitter.

The rule would bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the southern border. It represents the latest effort by Trump’s administration to crack down on immigration, a signature issue during his presidency and 2020 re-election bid.

The American Civil Liberties Union and others who challenged the administration’s policy in federal court said it violates U.S. immigration law and accused the administration of failing to follow the correct legal process in issuing the rule, which was unveiled on July 15.

In her dissent, Sotomayor said that the government’s rule may be in significant tension with the asylum statute.

“It is especially concerning, moreover, that 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.”

Eight days after the rule went into effect in July, California-based U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued a nationwide injunction blocking it.

Then began a back-and-forth between Tigar and the 9th Circuit, which scaled back the injunction so that the Trump rule was blocked in the border states of California and Arizona while in effect in Texas and New Mexico.

Tigar ruled to restore the nationwide ban on Monday, but the 9th Circuit scaled it back again on Tuesday night.

They were both trumped by Supreme Court, which will allow the asylum restriction to remain in place until the underlying legality of the rule is determined at trial.

“This is just a temporary step, and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said. “The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

The Republican president’s administration issued the rule in an attempt to reduce the surging number of asylum claims primarily by Central American migrants who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in large numbers during his presidency.

The rule would block nearly all families and individuals from countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala from entering the United States as asylum seekers after crossing through Mexico. The rule would keep asylum protections for Mexican citizens.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the Trump administration was “pleased” by the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said rejected an “erroneous” ruling by the lower court judge.

But Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, and Zoe Lofgren, the head of the judiciary panel’s immigration subcommittee, called the court’s decision disappointing.

“Lives will be lost. This rule will result in those fleeing fear and persecution to be turned away at our doorstep and will only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the region,” they said in a statement.


The rule drew legal challenges including from a coalition of groups represented by the ACLU who accused the administration of pursuing an “asylum ban” and jeopardizing the safety of migrants fleeing persecution.

In the administration’s request to fully enforce the rule, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the Supreme Court to issue a stay blocking the injunction while litigation over the issue proceeds because the judge’s order interferes with the government’s authority to establish immigration policy.

The administration said the rule screens out asylum claims that are unlikely to succeed and “deters aliens without a genuine need for asylum from making the arduous and potentially dangerous journey from Central America to the United States.”

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung, Roberta Rampton and Makini Brice; Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman)

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Jay D
Jay D

If they are fleeing their country from war or other conflicts then why not flea to the closest safe country not in conflict? It’s because they aren’t fleeing for that reason. They are using that to try to get into the US and it isn’t going to work any more. Now they should head the other way and start flooding other countries besides the US. Let them countries take ever single person supposedly fleeing conflict and see how that are doing in a year or 2. Just like Paris thought would be ok and is now a complete shithole that… Read more »

Sandra Lueder
Sandra Lueder

Ecstatic about this SCOTUS ruling. Some losses by the open borders crowd are long overdue.

william jackson

Good job Trump!
Keep up the good work.
Like the tenacity—–stick with it.

Walter Swartz
Walter Swartz

Of COURSE they ruled that way. Can we please read the constitution once again? It is WRITTEN in there for a REASON!

Dave Hardesty

More than just Central America. The Democrats should be happy now that we are finally following International law. :>)


Se7en sane Supreme Court Justices at least on Supreme Court and two snowflakes.

Maurice David Robison

I grew up on a farm. Cruel and irresponsible people would often dump unwanted pets in our area and the poor animals would come to our farm, looking for food. We tried to sustain them, but there were just too many of them. I had to learn at a very young age that I couldn’t save all of the puppies and kitties. It’s the same with people. There are just too many needy people for us to be able to save them all. American taxpayers are FORCED to support these people and in return we are being pushed toward becoming… Read more »


It’s easy to spend taxpayers money. I’d like to hear what Democrats would say if they paid out of their pocket. The tax money should be used on US citizens, not make US citizenship for people from other countries





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