Supreme Court Not Too Concerned About Coronavirus, Says Asylum-Seekers Can Just Stay In Cages In Mexico
It's a day that ends in "y," so we're screwing over immigrants again.
Thanks to an order from the US Supreme Court, The US government gets to keep throwing asylum seekers into dangerous and inhumane camps and shelters in Mexico, so that's just lovely.
Last Friday, the government asked the
judicial branch of the Trump administration Supreme Court to let them keep locking up legal immigrants in cages in Mexico. Yesterday, the Court did its thing and bent over backwards in order to accommodate yet another horrific and discriminatory policy from the Trump regime.
Because why worry about things like "the law" or "basic human rights" when there's a racist fascist to placate?
So here's the deal
Since December 2018, Trump and his assorted sycophants at the Department of Homeland Security have been taking asylum seekers and throwing them into tents and overcrowded shelters in dangerous border towns in Mexico.
The policy, officially called Migrant Protection Protocols but commonly referred to as the "remain in Mexico" policy, applies to all people who leave a third country and travel through Mexico to get to the US border. The policy was created to hurt potential immigrants from Central and South America, but it also harms asylum seekers from other parts of the world attempting to get to the United States through the southern border.
Like most Trump policies, the remain in Mexico policy hurts people who desperately need our help. Asylum seekers are, of course, legal immigrants fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. (Though, of course, none of that matters to someone like Donald Trump, who merely sees poor brown people.)
The US government has forcibly relocated some 60,000 prospective asylees to tent cities and overcrowded shelters in towns like Matamoros, Tijuana, and Juarez, which struggle with high crime rates and lack of medical resources. While some migrants are housed in makeshift shelters run by religious organizations, thousands are kept in mere tents.
Human Rights First has documented more than 800 violent attacks on asylum seekers forced into these dangerous conditions in Mexico, including over 200 reported cases of kidnappings or attempted kidnappings of children. There are also documented cases of murder, sexual assault, torture, and other violent attacks.
And now, this forcible relocation will be allowed to continue indefinitely.
It's all bad
After Trump announced the policy in 2018, the ACLU almost immediately filed suit in federal court. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the policy was likely illegal and is "causing extreme and irreversible harm[.]" But those things mean nothing to the boot-lickers in the Trump administration and its judicial arm, so here we are.
The government's appeal to the Supreme Court was predictably disgusting, with Solicitor General Noel Francisco arguing the Ninth Circuit's decision was "virtually guaranteed to impose irreparable harm by prompting a rush on the border and potentially requiring the government to allow into the United States and detain thousands of aliens who lack any entitlement to enter this country, or else to release them into the interior where many will simply disappear."
A district court judge and a panel of the Ninth Circuit have held that the policy likely violated both federal and international law and was causing "extreme and irreversible harm." But in a brief order that offered no reasoning for the decision, the Supreme Court said "nah, this is fine." Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only recorded dissent.
This, despite a finding from the Ninth Circuit that
Uncontested evidence in the record establishes that non-Mexicans returned to Mexico under the MPP risk substantial harm, even death, while they await adjudication of their applications for asylum.
And, in addition to all of the regular reasons it's cruel and inhumane to throw asylum seekers into unsanitary tents and overcrowded shelters, there's also the fact that we're in the midst of a fucking global pandemic right now. If, god forbid, COVID-19 made its way into these asylee camps, the results would be devastating.
As noted by HuffPost:
Without the government's help, volunteer doctors in Mexican border towns told HuffPost they are scrambling to take preventative measures to stave off a coronavirus outbreak. But if the disease enters these congested environments, it could "spread like wildfire" and lead to deaths, said Helen Perry, the executive director of the nonprofit Global Response Management who has been coordinating medical efforts in Matamoros. [...]
"I think that there is a callousness in a lot of these policies that basically devalues life," Perry said. "We're saying there's such an incredible risk that we need to advise Americans not to take cruises and travel internationally. But what does that say about the sanctity of life for individuals who are not Americans?"
Yeah. Everything is awful.
So what happens now?
The Supreme Court's order allows the policy to continue, but the case isn't yet ready to be heard by the Court. But the order means that the practice of kicking legal immigrants out of the country while they wait for their day in court, which the ACLU notes "has put asylum seekers directly in harm's way," will continue as the parties continue to duke things out.
As Judy Rabinovitz, special counsel in the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said:
The Court of Appeals unequivocally declared this policy to be illegal. The Supreme Court should as well. Asylum seekers face grave danger and irreversible harm every day this depraved policy remains in effect.