The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear cases challenging the Trump administration’s use of Pentagon funding to pay for a border wall and its policy that has left tens of thousands of asylum seekers waiting. in Mexico while their cases are ongoing.
In the Border Wall funding case, the High Court will hear a challenge to the Trump administration’s use of around $2.5 billion intended to pay members of the US military to instead fund the construction of part of its long-promised wall on the southern border. This case, Sierra Club v. Trump, was brought by the ACLU on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
Earlier this month, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the administration cannot use $3.6 billion in military construction to build parts of the wall, including projects in areas from El Paso and Laredo. Gloria Smith, chief counsel for the Sierra Club, said the Supreme Court will hear the larger case that challenges the use of the two types of Pentagon funding.
“Stopping this unnecessary and irreversible damage is long overdue, and we look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court,” she said in a statement.
The other case involves migrant protection protocols, also known as “remain in Mexico,” which require most asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their hearings in immigration court in the United States. .
Implemented as a way to deter migrants from seeking asylum, the policy has sent around 60,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Central America and Cuba, across the southern border. The program launched in El Paso in March 2019 before expanding to the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley areas of Texas.
The program has been widely criticized by lawyers and immigration advocates, who said it puts thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers at risk by sending them to Mexican border states that have seen sustained violence. A May 2020 report by Human Rights First documented more than 1,100 reports of rape, extortion, kidnapping and other crimes committed by migrants after the policy took effect.
Lawyers have also argued that the program makes proper representation nearly impossible because they cannot easily locate or communicate with clients who are staying in migrant shelters or who have no place to live.
After a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the program was blocked by lower courts, only to be allowed to Continue by these same courts.
“Asylum seekers face grave danger every day that this illegal and depraved policy is in effect,” Judy Rabinovitz, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the case, said in a statement. “The courts have repeatedly ruled against this, and so should the Supreme Court.”
Rabinovitz said it was unclear when the court would consider the case, but the timing could depend on the presidential election next month.
“There are reasons to go at least slower to see who wins the election because [Democratic nominee Joe] Biden put it at the top of his list to undo the policy,” she said. “If so, that means [the lawsuit] will probably become moot.”
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