In what immigrant rights groups celebrated as a significant victory over President Donald Trump's xenophobic agenda, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the White House cannot automatically deny asylum to those who don't enter the country through an "official" border crossing.
"The Trump administration can no longer discriminate against asylum-seekers based on how they entered the country," RAICES, the largest immigration legal services non-profit in Texas, wrote on Twitter. "This government's policy of clogging ports of entry and then punishing those who cross outside is immoral. We're glad it's beginning to crumble."
BIG VICTORY: The Trump admin can no longer discriminate against asylum-seekers based on how they entered the country.
This gov's policy of clogging ports of entry & then punishing those who cross outside is immoral.
We're glad it's beginning to crumble. https://t.co/K8AQJhLbfw
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) December 21, 2018
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In its 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that blocked the Trump administration's asylum rule from taking effect. Conservative Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberal justices in denying the Trump administration's plea to allow the policy to move forward, while Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the White House.
As the ACLU noted in its legal brief to the Supreme Court, those "fleeing persecution" in their home countries are "desperate" and often have "no understanding of the option to apply for asylum at a port, are forced by gangs and others to enter away from designated ports of entry, or cannot realistically travel to such ports because of danger and distance."
While noting that the legal battle over the Trump administration's policy is far from over, Bloomberg observed that "the high court rebuff of Trump's request to block the order suggests skepticism about the administration's legal case."
"The disputed Trump policy, designed to apply for 90 days, would effectively require all asylum claims to be made at official ports of entry," Bloomberg noted. "Federal immigration law says people may apply for asylum 'whether or not at a designated port of arrival' and 'irrespective of such alien's status.'"