The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal judge’s order blocking the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices in the 5-4 ruling.
The administration’s policy, signed on November 9, would temporarily bar migrants who illegally cross into the US through the southern border from seeking asylum outside of official ports of entry.
The ruling comes after a federal judge opted to extend a ban on the new restrictions Wednesday.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit earlier this month kept in place a lower-court decision that stopped the policy’s implementation, saying it was simply a way around specific language in federal law that allows all who enter the United States, regardless of where, to apply for asylum.
“Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, ‘legislate from the bench,’ neither may the Executive legislate from the Oval Office,” wrote Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, a conservative nominated by President George W. Bush, in the 2-to-1 decision.
President Trump’s Nov. 9 proclamation barred asylum for anyone who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border between official ports of entry, a reaction to recent caravans of migrants from Central America.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the Supreme Court that the policy had important goals — “channeling asylum seekers to ports of entry for orderly processing, discouraging dangerous and illegal entries between ports of entry, reducing the backlog of meritless asylum claims, and facilitating diplomatic negotiations.”
The lower courts said federal law does not allow the president to make such changes. The statute says an asylum application must be accepted from any alien “physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States whether or not at a designated port of arrival . . . irrespective of such alien’s status.”