Supreme Court won't let Trump administration begin enforcing asylum ban

Visitors stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Feb. 27 2018. Bloomberg

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh said they would have granted the stay.

Trump has said the proclamation was in response to caravans of Central American migrants making their way to the U.S. border through Mexico.

The Trump administration's stay request was part of an aggressive effort to draw the Supreme Court into legal battles over some of the president's most controversial initiatives. The legal fight on that could return to the Supreme Court.

Tigar's ruling prompted Trump to criticize him as an "Obama judge", and Trump predicted that the government would "win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States".

The administration has said the rule sought to crack down what it called "meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources".

"Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, 'legislate from the bench, ' neither may the executive legislate from the Oval Office", Judge Jay Bybee, a conservative appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote for the appeals court majority.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco had issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the asylum restrictions from taking effect in November, and the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in a December 7 decision.

But the Supreme Court in June backed Mr Trump in another major immigration-related case when the justices in a 5-4 ruling endorsed the legality of the Republican president's travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations.

The administration's proposed policy, which dates back to early November, sought to temporarily prevent immigrants from being able to apply for asylum if they did not come into the U.S.at an official point of entry. "What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them". Migrants who cross illegally, he said, would be held until deportation. Congress would not have "swung the door open for potential asylum for those who entered illegally, while simultaneously authorizing the [executive branch] to slam that door shut at any time for any reason".

U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California agreed, implementing a temporary restraining order on the ban, an order the 9th Circuit upheld.

"The Supreme Court's decision to leave the asylum ban blocked will save lives and keep vulnerable families and children from persecution", he said. "We are pleased the court refused to allow the administration to short-circuit the usual appellate process". The administration may eventually, as Trump predicted, win in the Supreme Court, but this round went to the challengers, and the eventual fate of the case nearly certainly lies in Roberts' hands.

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