Friday, February 28, 2020

President Trump's immigration crackdown inundates Supreme Court

President Donald Trump's three-year crackdown on immigration has led to a surge in lawsuits reaching the Supreme Court, where a rebuilt conservative majority increasingly is paying dividends for him.
In the past year, the justices let the administration deter poor immigrants, deny asylum seekers and redirect military funds to build a wall along the southern border. Federal officials' efforts to force cooperation from states and cities could be next.
The high court has heard arguments in six immigration cases since its term began in October, including Trump's plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has helped nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants work without fear of deportation. Two additional cases will be argued next week, including an effort to speed the removal of migrants without federal court hearings.
"The Trump administration has made immigration its No. 1 issue. I’m not surprised it would trickle up to the Supreme Court," says Karen Tumlin, an immigrant rights attorney who founded the Justice Action Center.
The glut of cases comes as the president makes his approach to immigration central to his reelection campaign. For a court that tries valiantly to avoid politics, its rulings could become fodder in that effort.
Since 2017, much of the legal action on immigration has occurred in federal district and circuit courts, where judges often upheld challenges to administration policies mounted by immigrant rights groups. The Justice Department used the Supreme Court to block many of those rulings, particularly when district court judges issued nationwide injunctions.
"There’s been a massive onslaught by groups opposed to immigration enforcement. As a result, a handful of federal district courts have distorted immigration law," says Christopher Hajec, director of litigation at the conservative Immigration Reform Law Institute. "If the Supreme Court is catching on to that, then it stands to reason that they’re going to side more often with the administration."
It hasn't been a clean sweep. It took three versions before the justices in 2018 upheld Trump's ban on travel from five predominantly Muslim countries. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote last year that blocked the Commerce Department from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump nominee, helped to strike down as vague a law subjecting noncitizens who commit violent crimes to deportation.
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