Trump appeals asylum ban to Supreme Court

Washington (AFP) –


President Donald Trump's administration asked the Supreme Court Tuesday to allow him to enforce a ban on granting asylum to illegal immigrants, after suffering two lower court setbacks.

The Justice Department told the high court that the ban, announced by Trump on November 11, needed to be enforced immediately to deter thousands of Central Americans now at the US southern border from crossing into the country illegally in search of asylum.

"These measures are designed to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, where their claims can be processed in an orderly manner; deter unlawful and dangerous border crossings; and reduce the backlog of meritless asylum claims," read the petition, filed in Trump's name.

Eleven days after Trump announced the controversial action, US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order against its implementation, while the full case faces legal challenges.

Human rights groups argue that the order violated the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that any foreigner who arrives in the US, "whether or not at a designated port of arrival," may apply for asylum.

The Justice Department appealed the restraining order. But on Friday an appeals court sided with the lower court against enforcement, saying Trump's ban was at odds with existing law.

The fight over asylum seekers was the latest in a series of battles over immigration that Trump has waged with his own courts since he came into office in January 20 promising a crackdown on the borders.

The administration is fighting to stem the surge of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who travel to the US border with Mexico to request asylum, claiming their countries are too dangerous for them to remain there.

Currently, if they do cross the border illegally, they must be allowed to apply for asylum and are often set free inside the country while their case is pending.

There was no immediate response from the Supreme Court on whether or when it would review the Trump petition.