In a brief order, the Supreme Court first stayed a July 24 preliminary nationwide injunction against the asylum policy issued by Oakland, Calif. -based U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.
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.
The Trump administration, of course, has no interest in granting asylum to brown-skinned people from what the president so derisively dismissed as "shithole countries".
The high court action allows the Republican administration to impose the new policy everywhere while court cases challenging the policy continue. "And in the district court, the parties recently participated in an evidentiary hearing to supplement the record", Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.
The new policy would deny refuge to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the USA without first seeking asylum there. 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 U.S. Supreme Court order would block the vast majority of migrants from so-called third countries from applying for asylum at U.S. borders.
Meanwhile, the administration has forced 42,000 asylum seekers who reached the U.S.to wait in Mexico while their applications are processed, and is opening two temporary sets of courtrooms in tent complexes in the border towns of Brownsville and Laredo, Texas, to handle the cases.
But Mexico has resisted US pressure to sign a formal "safe third country" agreement that would commit it to hearing the asylum cases of migrants from Central American and elsewhere, a move that would take even more pressure off the USA border. The administration has said that it wants to close the gap between an initial asylum screening that most people pass and a final decision on asylum that most people do not win. Tigar again sought to put a hold on the policy on Monday, but the Supreme Court blocked both his decisions from taking effect until after the government has completed its appeals. The 9th Circuit narrowed his order Tuesday with the Supreme Court decision following on Wednesday.
It also accepted the expansion of the "Remain in Mexico" policy, under which the USA has sent more than 40,000 asylum applicants back across the border to wait in Mexico.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing four nonprofit organizations, sued to challenge the rule, which it said would virtually eliminate asylum at the southern border. Under the new policy, they would fail the test unless they sought asylum in at least one country they travelled through and were denied. "The lives of thousands of families are at stake", he added.
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.