Posted on October 21, 2020

Supreme Court to Review Two of Trump Administration’s Immigration Policies

Brent Kendall and Michelle Hackman, Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2020

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review two of the Trump administration’s most visible immigration actions: its construction of a southern U.S. border wall with military funds and its requirement that asylum seekers at the border wait in Mexico while their requests are considered.

The justices, in a pair of one-line orders, said they would hear the administration’s appeals of lower-court rulings that found its actions unlawful. Oral arguments will likely take place early next year, though the cases could be affected by next month’s presidential election. If Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeats President Trump, he could drop the Trump administration’s appeals.

In the border-wall case, the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that the administration unlawfully transferred billions of dollars in military funds for use in wall construction.

The appeals court said the administration had no valid basis to spend the money because Congress didn’t approve it and the border wall wasn’t the kind of unforeseen military requirement that allowed for the use of those funds in emergency circumstances.

The administration in its high-court appeal said the transfers were in the national interest and fully consistent with federal law, arguing additionally that legal challengers in the case had no right to even bring a lawsuit. The Justice Department, which is defending the administration’s policies on the border wall and asylum claims, declined to comment.


The political fight over the border wall has been one of the most divisive of the Trump presidency, leading to a budget standoff with Democrats and a partial government shutdown.


The asylum case will determine the fate of the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols. {snip}

Under the policy, families as well as individual asylum seekers could be required to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings, rather than being released into the U.S., where they had previously been permitted to live for months, and sometimes years, while their cases were decided.

The administration said many people seeking asylum have meritless claims. {snip}


Immigration court data show that as many as half of the people placed in the program have since abandoned their asylum claims.


The Supreme Court previously allowed the administration to continue enforcing the policy while it sought high-court review.


The Supreme Court previously dealt the Trump administration two high-profile losses on its immigration agenda, both in 5-to-4 rulings.

In June, the court rejected the administration’s cancellation of former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provided legal protections and work permits to unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. And last year, the court halted the Trump administration’s plans to ask U.S. residents on the 2020 census whether they are citizens.