The Supreme Court has recently upheld the Trump Administration’s decision to bar migrants from certain Central American countries (predominantly The Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) from seeking refuge in the United States. Trump has been granted his wish of blocking migrants from making asylum claims in the US; and instead requiring them to first apply for asylum in a country they pass while en route to the US. Most often, this third country is Mexico and refers to a previous proposal made by the Trump Administration in the Summer of 2019. Mexicans themselves are unaffected by this new policy because they share a border with the US and therefore cannot be outright banned in such a way. Mexico has previously written off the US attempts to make Mexico a ‘safe third country’ as overall numbers in border crossings have declined.

Supreme Court Justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg submitted written oppositions to this decision. Sotomayor expressed that this new policy, “topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere – without affording the public a chance to weigh in.”  Various organizations – such as the ACLU – have also publicized their disdain and pleaded that such a decision violates principles of international law.

More than 400,000 people from The Northern Triangle are caught illegally crossing the border with Mexico annually. More than 400,000 people would theoretically be turned away from claiming asylum for the immediate foreseeable future in the US. As the ACLU claimed, there are long-existing asylum laws that have been a pivotal part of international law that Trump’s new rule violates. To much of Trump’s xenophobic fan base, this comes as a victory on the path to essentially closing the border

As Justice Sotomayor pointed out, the public has not had much of an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. Given that immigration has been as a household topic during this Administration, a public debate might prove divisive. But given that the US is a democracy it is a conversation worth having.

Engagement Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.

Photo by unsplash-logoAditya Joshi

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