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Supreme Court Approves Trump Administration’s Strict Asylum Rules

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The Supreme Court is allowing nationwide enforcement of a new Trump administration rule that prevents most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States.

Speaker 1: 00:00 A ruling from the U S Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon allows a Trump administration policy to be implemented, which prevents migrants from seeking asylum in the u s if they've traveled through another country without asking for and being denied asylum. Their first KPBS reporter Max Rivlin Adler is just back from the border and joins us now. Max, welcome. Hi. So could you start off by explaining what yesterday afternoon Supreme Court ruling does?

Speaker 2: 00:28 Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling allows a Trump administration rule, which was first hastily announced in July that bars people from applying for asylum in the U S if they've not actually applied for asylum and gone through the entire process in another country that they've transmitted through on their way to the u s with the Supreme Court did yesterday was that they stayed a lower courts, um, injunction, which had put the policy on hold and said until the courts figure this out, the policy can go into effect.

Speaker 1: 01:01 And the Supreme Court's ruling settles for now a back and forth between a US district judge and the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco.

Speaker 2: 01:10 What was that about? So the judge, a district judge in the northern district of California and San Francisco, Judge Tigar who had struck down an earlier separate ban on asylum, was really strong in making a nationwide injunction on uh, this rule saying it cannot go into effect anywhere until we figure it out its legality. A separate judge in DC had said that it was legal and could go ahead while it played out in court and the ninth circuit which governs the, um, the courts in California pretty much along the entire west coast. And Arizona then came back and said what the judge in San Francisco did was improper and basically there will be no nationwide injunction on this. Uh, what ended up happening is the judge in San Francisco again tried to place a nationwide injunction. And then finally what happened is that the supreme court in kind of a rare move decided to weigh in here and say, listen, this can continue to play out while it is duked out in the courts between advocates for migraines and the government. And does this just affect asylum seekers from Central America? It does not. It affects anybody who transmitted again through a third country on their way to the southern border. So for example, people from Africa who come and fly into South America, travel through south and Central America to reach the southern border people from Vietnam. I've met Russians into Kalana who've come through that way as well. So basically it only, um, doesn't bar Mexicans who already have a very uphill battle when it comes to seeking asylum.

Speaker 1: 02:43 And what was the scene down at the border this morning

Speaker 2: 02:45 at the border this morning I spoke with several asylum seekers who told me that this wouldn't discourage them because basically they had no choice. They had come all this way to Tijuana and they've decided that whether rule is in effect or not, and I'll explain in a moment, it doesn't necessarily foreclose their chance to not be deported, but it makes their road to asylum that much harder or legal status, almost impossible. Uh, here's one individual from Cameroon who I spoke with who told me that he had come through 10 separate countries on his way to the u s demonstrating just how many different places. One would be able to apply for asylum before they enter the u s

Speaker 3: 03:27 um, um, a postural [inaudible]. Um, Vinny, that's good to me. Um, um, [inaudible] Brazil, um, Erie Credo, Columbia, um, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Speaker 2: 03:49 So that individual told me that he would not be able to claim asylum in any of the places he went through because he didn't feel safe in any of them. And it was a long and very difficult journey for him. So for individuals at the southern border who are trying to claim asylum, what they do have the opportunity to do is apply for withholding of removal or, um, withholding under the convention against torture, uh, that the u s is a signatory on. And basically these are very tough roads to get through if you are not represented by a lawyer. And very, very few

Speaker 1: 04:24 people are. So what are the next steps in resolving this issue? So this could go on until

Speaker 2: 04:32 2021. This could go on well into the next, uh, presidential term because what's gonna happen now is there's gonna be arguments in the ninth circuit trying to resolve the issue, whether it's decided one way or the other. Obviously the supreme court has shown an interest in this case, at least five of them had voted to say that it could remain in place. So if that's tipping their hand a little bit, uh, how they'll ultimately decided. So I don't see the, uh, this crisis along the border. Um, and especially these judicial issues around this rule being settled for some time. But if you want to keep your eye on the next step, there will be arguments in the ninth circuit court of Appeals this December, uh, the, uh,

Speaker 1: 05:18 panel there could decide to put an end to this rule. Of course, the government could appeal. And ultimately, of course, I think we're heading towards the supreme court. You know, and I think the interesting thing here is that, you know, the, the, the man who we heard from and that audio clip, his story is not unique. [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 05:34 no, it's not. There are literally thousands of people currently into Helena who have either been returned there through the migrant protection protocols or the remain in Mexico policy, which makes people wait out their asylum claims in Mexico or have been waiting on this kind of legal fiction that is called the waiting list where people wait their number until their number is called and they're allowed to enter into the u s with the port of entry to begin their processing. So we have this crisis that is only going to be exacerbated by the fact that people will be denied asylum. Um, you know, under terms that may ultimately be reversed, but in the meantime they're going to be stuck in a place where they don't feel safe and they can't apply for asylum. Uh, these are countries that they're passing through that you not have a functional asylum system.

Speaker 2: 06:20 So to ask these individuals to a return to the country that they escaped from, where it's in the case of Cameroonians or obviously central Americans is not necessarily a choice they want to have to make. And then on top of that to ask them to, okay, go to another country that you've traveled through and you know, essentially escaped from and ask them for asylum is going to be near on possible. So what we're creating is a really large humanitarian crisis along our southern border that is only compounded by the fact that we no longer will have this release valve, which is that people will be able to claim asylum in the u s I have been speaking with KPBS reporter Max Rivlin Adler. Max, thank you so much. Thank you.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.