The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday, granting a stay to the U.S. Government on the matter of Barr. v East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. The decision was not on the merits of the case, as has been implied by some news sources like the BBC. It was also not about the ability of a single lower court judge to block a Presidential order, as has been presented by other places like Fox News. This is because the rationale behind granting the stay was not presented; there may very well have been different rationales behind the decision for each of the assenting Justices, ranging from a belief that the Federal government leaders should have unrestricted power to a frustration with perceived “activist judges” to simply being lackeys of the current administration. There is no way of knowing, outside of asking them individually and getting answers.
Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg dissented, and in so doing provided their rationale: the U.S. government is likely to lose the case on the merits, not having followed the required process in implementing the rule change and applying the laws in an arbitrary fashion, so the rule change should not take effect.
Nevertheless, the stay is very correctly being seen as a win for the Trump administration. Many of his supporters are pleased, as border security is a top priority for them. What they seem to be missing is that this win is on behalf of the Mexican government.
The same Mexican government against which they chanted for a wall to be built, the same Mexicans who were repeatedly described by their leader as rapists and criminals, the same Mexicans who are not paying for a wall but are getting support from the U.S. government to maintain border security. That Mexico.
The rule in question is designed to make it impossible for refugees travelling north through Mexico to receive asylum in the United States. Regardless of the merits of individual cases, we are to reject applications if the person is applying here instead of in a country which the U.S. has deemed suitably stable… like Mexico. This is expected to drastically reduce the number of migrants coming through Mexico to seek relief in the United States.
This absolutely runs counter to the basic principles that America was founded upon, regarding immigration; it also runs counter to most interpretations of human rights and basic decency, in the summary refusal to accept asylum seekers and returning innocent people to places where they will face certain execution. There is nothing unique about this, though. The United States has done the same in the past; famously, an entire ship of Jews fleeing the German concentration camps was denied port and sent back to die. Similarly, we are denying asylum to most Bahamians in the wake of a natural disaster, despite recognition that basic life services on the island are inadequate right now.
Murderous embrace of U.S. xenophobia aside, Mexico will likely be seeing some relief for its overburdened immigration system. They have been dealing with severe overcrowding at facilities in southern Mexico and on the northern border near Tijuana, and now have a rationale for deporting those who have already been summarily rejected for sanctuary.
As the northern camps diminish, there will be less attention – both from law enforcement and international news organizations – placed on border crossings. This will benefit those from Mexico who are seeking to enter the United States illegally.
What they will also see is some pressure relieved on the Trump administration to build more of the vaunted “wall”. As the rule change affects only non-Mexican asylum seekers and not Mexican citizens, this will further reduce concerns from Mexico about a border crackdown.
The Trump administration has successfully shifted the focus on the border from dominantly-Mexican illegal immigrants to people from other nations seeking sanctuary, and are likely to reap a political benefit from their supporters who have been conditioned to not understand the difference. Mexico, the direct subject of contempt and fear from those supporters, will be an even greater beneficiary.