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Supreme Court blocks Trump's asylum ban

President Trump issued an executive order that prevented people from seeking political asylum in this country unless they entered through a port of entry. A district court refused to enforce this rule, which led the Trump administration to appeal the district court's ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the district court, so the government brought the case before the Supreme Court and asked the Supreme Court to reverse the trial court. The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, refused the request.

This case centered on the statute that defines the procedures by which immigrants can request political asylum. The statute allows an application for asylum to be filed by any alien who is physically present in the United States "whether or not [the applicant is] at a designated port of arrival." The president's order contradicted the plain language of the statute by requiring all asylum seekers to have entered through a lawful port of entry. Currently, many people who have entered the country at places other than ports of entry are seeking asylum. Presumably, their applications for asylum will now be processed in due course.

The statutory language was enacted in response to the persecution of Jews and other minorities by oppressive regimes in Europe and elsewhere.

The Court's ruling surprised observers, both because the statutory language is so clear and because Chief Justice Roberts voted with the four justices who are generally considered to view immigration disputes through liberal eyes.

The Supreme Court order does not represent the Court's final ruling in the case. The parties must try the case in California, and the losing party may appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. The language of the statute is very clear, and the presidential administration's chances of ultimately prevailing seem very remote.

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