President Donald Trump scored a big victory in the courts on Wednesday when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the president’s policy of requiring asylum seekers to apply in the first safe country they reach to go forward.
But the media did not celebrate.
HuffPost put the spotlight not on the fact that international law calls for migrants to seek asylum in the first safe country they reach – the law Trump’s policy was acknowledging – but on dissent to the majority’s unsigned order.
“Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a fierce dissent on Wednesday after a majority of her colleagues allowed President Donald Trump’s effort to ban most migrants from Central America from seeking asylum in the United States to go forward while legal challenges to the policy make their way through the court system,” wrote Nick Visser of HuffPost under the headline, “Justice Sonia Sotomayor Pens Powerful Dissent on New Asylum Policy” – subhead: “She was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in arguing that the restrictions upend ‘longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.’”
Sotomayor’s dissent does not challenge the administration on the law. It merely says she finds it “especially concerning that the rule the Government promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the world’s most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere.”
The piece included a video interview with Jacob Soboroff, an MSNBC correspondent, in which he said, “If you talk to anybody who deals with migrants on the ground, they say that you couldn’t do anything more inhumane than make people sit in some of the most dangerous countries in the world while they wait to flee violence and persecution and danger in their home countries.”
Soboroff then took some shots at America’s southern neighbors “Whether it’s an asylum ban or a policy that requires people who are coming here to remain in Mexico during the duration of their immigration cases, another Trump administration policy … you talk to lawyers who deal with folks every single day trying to come here for a better life, they’ll say, when you talk about the inhumanity of the situation, it is all compounded after you flee your home country with having to wait in these dangerous places instead of being able to walk into the United States of America through an open door and an asylum system that’s recognized internationally by international law.”
At Vox, the headline on Ian Millhiser’s piece read: “The Supreme Court just let Trump close the Mexican border to nearly all migrants seeking asylum,” and the subhead: “So much for reining in executive power.”
Millhiser wrote: “Federal law allows any foreign national ‘who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States’ to seek asylum, a form of mercy that allows people who fear persecution in their home nation to remain in the United States. Though the asylum statute does contain some limited exceptions, no explicit provision provides for the sweeping asylum restrictions implemented by the Trump administration.”
He also complained the administration “did not follow the ordinary process” for imposing rules.
The point of Trump’ policy change is for asylum seekers who have little chance of winning their cases to not have the opportunity to become physically present in the United States while still having their humanitarian needs met. He has negotiated agreements with Guatemala and Mexico to stem the tide of migrants reaching the U.S. to make asylum claims they’ll almost certainly lose. As of May, the backlog was nearing 900,000 cases and fewer than 450 judges to handle them.
According to the New York Times, the president’s attorneys convinced the court they did not have to go through the notice-and-public-comment period for the rule because it pertained to foreign affairs and because “a delay of the announcement of the procedures ‘may prompt an additional surge of asylum seekers.’”