The Supreme Court has refused by a 5-to-4 vote to allow the Trump administration immediately to enforce its new policy of denying asylum to migrants who illegally cross the Mexican border, reports the New York Times. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four-member liberal wing in refusing to reinstate the administration’s asylum policy. The court’s ruling thwarted for now President Trump’s proclamation last month that only migrants who arrived in the U.S. legally or applied at a port of entry would be eligible for asylum. It is likely to heighten tensions between Roberts and Trump, for whom limiting immigration is a central concern and who has been quick to criticize judges who rule against his immigration programs.
After a lower court blocked the new asylum rules last month, Trump dismissed the ruling as the work of an “Obama judge,” a reference to federal judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco, who issued the ruling blocking the program. Roberts then issued a statement rebuking Trump. After issuing a temporary restraining order blocking the initiative, Tigar entered a preliminary injunction this week to the same effect. “Whatever the scope of the president’s authority,” Tigar wrote in the earlier ruling, “he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.” The policy at issue is one of a handful of Trump administration efforts to shrink the asylum system, both by discouraging people from applying, and by placing higher burdens on those who choose to proceed anyway. The result of the changes has been a buildup along the border of waiting migrants, whose chances of gaining refuge in the U.S appear slimmer with the introduction of each new policy.