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SCOTUS permits ban on Central American asylees, at least for now

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to allow—at least temporarily—a rule that the current administration announced this past July. The policy blocks many Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S.

The controversial policy—which has been met with conflicting rulings in lower federal courts—prevents asylum seekers from seeking asylum in the U.S. if:

  • They have traveled through another country before coming to the U.S. and
  • They were not denied asylum in that country

This means that Central American migrants—who currently make up the vast majority of asylum seekers in the U.S.—can only seek asylum here if they first ask for, and are refused, asylum when they enter Mexico. The exception to this rule is people who have suffered “severe” human trafficking—though the definition of “severe” is unclear.

The number of asylum seekers at the southern border of the U.S. has reached an all-time high this year, as living conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador become increasingly dangerous. Families are fleeing for their lives—and are coming to the U.S. for protection.

The U.S. has had a long-standing policy of taking in vulnerable people seeking refuge from persecution. It is one of the founding principles of this country.

While this news is discouraging for thousands of people whose lives are in danger, it’s important to remember that this rule is not permanent. This is merely a temporary decision—while it is being battled out in lower courts. Nonetheless, the final ruling on this matter may not come for months—which is an eternity for thousands of families who are risking their lives for a chance at asylum.

The immigration policies in this country are changing rapidly. It’s critical to stay informed of what your options are. An experienced immigration attorney can be an invaluable resource under such circumstances.

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