Supreme Court Did Thing Again. It Was Not A Good Thing
We're treating immigrants like shit again.
This week, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump regime to bar immigrants who arrive at the US border from seeking asylum, unless they have sought asylum in another country first. The decision in Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant means the Trump regime can, in essence, bar all people from Central America arriving on foot from seeking asylum in the US, no matter how terrible the conditions they are fleeing. The rule does not allow for any consideration of whether the immigrants would be safe in that third country.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by RBG, reminding us that there is some good left in the world.
Trump v. Non-White Immigrants
Trump hates immigrants, especially immigrants who aren't white. He has suggested that people who come here should have "special skills," like being Norwegian. He has succeeded in decimating our refugee program and implementing his Muslim ban. Now he has moved on to a new type of legal immigration to fuck up: seeking asylum.
It seems like it took a while for someone to sit the president down long enough to teach him that seeking asylum in the United States is, in fact, legal immigration, but apparently someone finally succeeded last summer. In response, Trump and his cronies came up with a new rule to try to at least stop the brown, Spanish-speaking people from coming here.
The vast majority of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the US arrive on foot, meaning they pass through other countries on their way here. Trump's rule says that anyone who does that will automatically have their request for asylum denied, no matter how unsafe it is for them in their country of origin or the other countries they passed through to get here. This redefines US asylum law, creating an automatic denial for asylum claims at the southern border for everyone except Mexicans. And this was all done without an act of Congress or even a public comment period. So that's all just great.
The Supreme Court's decision is only the latest development in a case that began working its way through the courts when immigrants' rights organizations, represented by the ACLU, challenged the new rule. As described by Amy Howe:
After immigrant- and refugee-rights groups challenged the new rule, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar barred the government from enforcing the rule anywhere in the United States. Tigar concluded that the interim rule "is likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws," such as the provision barring asylum for an immigrant who can be removed to another country where he will be safe.
The 9th Circuit narrowed the scope of Tigar's order. It prohibited the government from enforcing the new rule in the geographic area covered by the 9th Circuit – which would include the U.S.-Mexico border in California and Arizona – but allowed the government to enforce the rule elsewhere in the United States (including along the 1,254-mile border that Mexico shares with Texas). The court of appeals also left open the possibility that the district court could add to the record and once again extend the scope of its order to cover the entire nation.
The picture changed on September 9, when Tigar entered a new order once again barring the government from enforcing the asylum rule anywhere in the United States. The government returned to the Supreme Court the next day, asking the justices to rule promptly and allow it to enforce the rule nationwide. The government stressed that the ban on enforcement of the rule "greatly impairs the government's and the public's interest in maintaining the integrity of the border, in preserving a well-functioning asylum system, and in conducting sensitive diplomatic negotiations." The government agreed with Tigar that it is important for the entire country to have a consistent immigration policy. But the way to do that, it argued, is for the Supreme Court to take up and resolve conflicts among the courts of appeals, "not for an individual district court to enter a universal injunction the moment it confronts a rule or policy that it views as unlawful."
A majority of the Supreme Court threw Judge TIgar's well-reasoned opinion in the trash and summarily reversed it. Because who needs things like facts?
Two of our favorite wonderwomen, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg, were unamused with Trump's fuckery. Their dissent begins by noting the high stakes and cruelty of what's going on.
Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution. Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees—and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher—the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law.
The dissent appeared to be persuaded by the district court judge who had stayed the rule and noted the importance of this major change to immigration law.
The rule here may be, as the District Court concluded, in significant tension with the asylum statute. It may also be arbitrary and capricious for failing to engage with the record evidence contradicting its conclusions. 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.
Although Sotomayor and Ginsburg were the only noted dissents, that doesn't necessarily mean this was a 7-2 decision. Other justices may have dissented without noting it for the public.
On Twitter, Trump's former DHS spokesman remarked on how "activist judges" are only a problem for the Trump regime when they're not on the far right.
It's important to note that this is just a preliminary decision on whether or not to allow the rule to go into effect while litigation over the rule continues. It doesn't mean the Supreme Court will necessarily uphold the rule in the future. However, it does give us a good idea of where they'll ultimately end up.
What does all of this mean?
Nothing good. Hundreds of thousands of lives will be at risk because of this decision. As noted by the Washington Post, "[t]he change most affects Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans leaving behind gang violence and high levels of crime in their countries. It could also turn away migrants fleeing oppressive regimes in Nicaragua, Venezuela and elsewhere."And as noted by BuzzFeed, "[t]he vast majority of the 688,375 immigrants apprehended at the southern border this year have traveled from Central America through Mexico."
On what this decision will mean for people fleeing violence, Omar Jadwat, Director of the ACLU's Immigrants Rights Project, did not parse his words.
A lot of people are unhappy with this recent turn of events, including people who work for the government to process potential asylees. Unlike CBP officers, most asylum officers are good people, and a lot of them are unhappy with this cruel new rule. Two of them spoke to BuzzFeed.
"This is dispiriting news after Monday's injunction. We're in the midst of a refugee crisis on the southern border and the administration's response are policies of exclusion enacted through this kind of bureaucratic violence," said one asylum officer. "The administration is dismantling, misusing, and perverting this country's asylum system."
Another asylum officer said they were "crushed" upon hearing word of the ruling. The officers spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"In the months this will take to resolve, thousands of claimants will be denied even a chance at asylum," the officer said.
As a result of this decision, every asylum seeker arriving at the US border after July 16 will have their claims denied.
This rule is yet another Trump regime attack on vulnerable people fleeing violence and horrific living conditions. Asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable people in the world. And despite this -- or perhaps even because of it -- Donald Trump has repeatedly used his office to ensure their persecution.
The cruelty is the point.
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