By Andrew Chung
(Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift a court order preventing the government from fully enforcing a new rule that would curtail asylum applications by immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
California-based U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar last month issued a nationwide injunction blocking the rule, which requires most immigrants who want asylum to first seek safe haven in a third country they had travelled through on their way to the United States.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 16 upheld Tigar’s injunction but limited it to the nine Western states over which it is has jurisdiction. Only two of those nine, California and Arizona, are on the border with Mexico. That left open the possibility that the rule could be applied in the two other border states, Texas and New Mexico.
The rule, unveiled on July 15, would bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the southern border. It represents the latest effort by Trump’s administration to crack down on immigration, a signature issue during his presidency and his 2020 re-election bid.
One of the Republican president’s main objectives has been to reduce the number of asylum claims primarily by Central American migrants who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in large numbers during his presidency.
The rule drew legal challenges including from a coalition of groups represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
In the administration’s request to fully enforce the rule, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the Supreme Court to issue a stay blocking the injunction while litigation over the issue proceeds because the judge’s order interferes with the government’s authority to establish immigration policy.
The administration said the rule screens out asylum claims that are unlikely to succeed and “deters aliens without a genuine need for asylum from making the arduous and potentially dangerous journey from Central America to the United States.”
The Supreme Court last December rebuffed a bid by the administration to implement a separate policy prohibiting asylum for people crossing the U.S.-Mexican border outside of an official port of entry, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberal justices in denying the request.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Will Dunham)