CST: Immigrant rights groups blast U.S. Supreme Court, Trump on asylum rule

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Originally published by Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s leading immigrant rights groups condemned a recent order issued from the U.S. Supreme Court that will deny most asylum seekers at the country’s southern boarder.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the asylum rule to move forward is a legal disaster and a humanitarian disaster,” said Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “These people are fleeing these countries for good reason.”

The order allows the Trump administration to enforce a new rule that dismisses asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through other countries that aren’t their own before arriving to the U.S. The move forces migrants to request asylum in those countries first.

The Trump administration initiated the block to asylum seekers in July but it was swiftly challenged in lawsuits that prevented it from going into effect.

The Supreme Court’s didn’t rule if the Trump administration’s new policy is legal, but rather that the administration had a right to impose it while the case makes it way through the lower courts.

Phil Robertson, litigation director for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the move allows the administration to bypass the normal litigation process and is an example of how partisan the high courts have become since more conservative justices have been appointed by President Donald Trump.

The move will mostly affect people seeking asylum from the Northern Triangle of Central America which consist of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In some cases, it will force those groups to seek asylum in Mexico rather than the U.S.

“Essentially nobody is going to get across the southern boarder and be able to seek asylum unless you are from Mexico,” Robertson said.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago, said the rule is just another example of how the Trump administration’s policies are driven by xenophobia.

“This really affects more than anybody I think those who live in countries with great political unrest and have faced a certain threat to their lives in Central America,” Rehab said. “This policy was designed to road block them.”

Manny Ramos is a corps member of Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South Side and West Side.