Oct. 1, 2019
According to a recent Supreme Court decision, the Trump administration can deny asylum to most migrants coming to the southern border. This policy will allow border personnel to reject anyone who passed through another country on their way to the United States unless they apply for and then are rejected safe haven in the first country they pass through upon leaving their home country. This means that most would-be asylum seekers fleeing dangerous situations in their homeland will not be able to apply in the U.S. and may be faced with applying for safe haven in countries that are even more difficult than those they are fleeing. Three Central American countries are notorious for their lack of safety for their citizens: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Mexican migrants will not be affected.
This decision is a significant shift from past decades of U.S. policy. While the policy approved by the Supreme Court is only a preliminary decision, the case will come again before the court, but probably not until after the 2020 presidential election. Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion on the case “It is especially concerning, moreover, that the rule the government promulgated 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”.
It should be noted that other countries facing over-whelming numbers of asylum seekers are resorting to like regulations. The European Union and Australia have put similar measures in place. However, difficulties of implementing this regulation make it uncertain as to effectiveness.