In an emergency application to the Supreme Court Tuesday evening, the Trump administration has asked the justices to intervene to allow immediate enforcement of President Donald Trump's ban on asylum for immigrants who illegally cross the southern border.
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Last week, a federal appeals court declined to lift an injunction blocking the administration from enforcing Trump's order as a legal challenge makes its way through the courts.
"The nationwide injunction, in this case, is particularly unwarranted because it virtually guarantees that the harms the rule addresses will continue to occur during litigation," writes Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
"At a minimum, this Court should narrow the injunction to cover only specific aliens respondents identify as actual clients in the United States who would otherwise be subject to the rule," he says.
Shortly after the president signed the executive order last month, a federal district court judge in San Francisco declared that it "irreconcilably conflicts" with the "expressed intent of Congress" in federal law, putting it on hold.
The lawsuit was brought by immigrant advocates and legal groups who argue that federal law specifies clearly that any immigrants to the U.S. are eligible to apply for asylum – regardless of how they entered the country.
"The United States has experienced a surge in the number of aliens who enter the country unlawfully from Mexico and, if apprehended, claim asylum and remain in the country while the claim is adjudicated, with little prospect of actually being granted that discretionary relief," Francisco tells the high court.
"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," the administration's emergency appeal says. "The measures will also assist the President in sensitive and ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras."
President Trump has asserted his broad authority to protect national security -- and specifically to confront an alleged threat from migrant caravans along the southern border – as a rationale for suspending the right to request asylum anywhere.
The Supreme Court will consider the administration's request; there is no firm timeline on when the justices might make a decision to grant or deny.
Justice Elena Kagan has given the legal groups challenging Trump's ban until Monday, Dec. 17, to present their response to the administration's emergency application.