Roberts, liberal justices snub Trump bid to enforce asylum policy

The Supreme Court in June backed 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.

Evidence in the case, it said, showed that those "fleeing persecution are desperate and often unsophisticated, 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 can not realistically travel to such ports because of danger and distance".

Trump denounced U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar and the 9th Circuit when Tigar on November 19 blocked the policy and later refused to immediately reinstate it.

But conservative Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the four liberal justices to refuse it.

"The 9th Circuit, we're going to have to look at that", Trump said, before adding that "every case" that goes through that circuit results in "an automatic loss" for his administration. This was in reaction to the caravan of migrants who had been working their way up through Central America, on their way to the US border. Trump would later dismiss Tigar as being an "Obama judge". "And as much as we might be tempted to revise the law as we think wise, revision of the laws is left with the branch that enacted the laws in the first place - Congress". The San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals then refused the administration's request to lift Tigar's order.

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.

"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges", Roberts said.

Immigration groups went to court to challenge the new rule, arguing that it clashed with federal immigration laws - which, they say, allow anyone in the United States to apply for asylum, no matter how they got here - and U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar barred the government from enforcing the rule.

Mr Trump's proclamation stated that mass migration on the border had precipitated a crisis and he was acting to protect the USA national interest.

The nationwide order against enforcement of that policy was based on a temporary filing that the challengers probably will be able to prove, when the issue is fully tested in court, that the policy violates the federal law governing foreign nationals' access to asylum - the kind of relief that enables a person fleeing from persecution and torture in their home country to gain a chance to live in the U.S.as a refugee.

But the justices rejected that appeal, keeping Trump's order on hold.

The White House said in response that Wednesday's ruling "will further overwhelm our immigration courts with meritless cases, making the existing massive backlog even worse".

  • Joey Payne