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  • A member of the Mexican National Guard observes migrants after they illegally crossed into El Paso, to request asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juarez.

    A member of the Mexican National Guard observes migrants after they illegally crossed into El Paso, to request asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juarez. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 September 2019

Trump’s policy is meant to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor to allow President Donald Trump’s administration to fully enforce a new rule that would curtail asylum applications at the U.S.-Mexico border, requiring migrants to first attempt international protection in a safe third country.

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Trump Bars Asylum Seekers at US Southern Border

The ruling temporarily undoes a lower-court decision that had halted the application of the new asylum policy in some states along the southern border. Trump’s policy is meant to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there.

Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

“Once again, the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution,” Sotomayor wrote.

It “will affect all those who reach our southern land border but may have fled from anywhere in the world. It does nothing to fix our broken migration system,” a DHS official told BuzzFeed back on July 15 when the designated “interim final rule” was announced.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was “deeply concerned” as the rule would “put vulnerable families at risk” and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently detaining more than 50,000 migrants a day, most of them are asylum seekers protected by international law, escaping political persecution, gang and drug-related violence. 

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is a binding document for all the United Nations members, a country like the U.S. can refuse to grant refuge to asylum seekers and send them to a country that is considered "safe" to their lives. Canada struck a pact of those characteristics back in 2002.

This means the North American nation can shift the burden onto other countries potentially sending Salvadorian and Honduran asylum seekers to Guatemala or Mexico. 

Guatemala and the U.S. signed a migration deal on July 26 after President Donald Trump, threatened economic sanctions against the Central American country if it did not become a “Safe Third Country (STC).”  

The decision was contested in courts but on Tuesday Guatemala’s Constitutional Court announced the revocation of a protective action that prevented President Jimmy Morales from negotiating an agreement with the U.S. 

While the Honduran and Mexican governments have refused to become a ‘safe third country’. 

“Mexico is not and will not accept being a safe third country. We have a mandate in that regard from the President of the Republic and it is a consensus in the [Mexican] senate among all political forces. We will not accept it,” Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted on Monday. 

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