THE US Supreme Court has ruled that a Trump administration policy limiting the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum can be enforced.

Under the policy, first unveiled in July, people arriving in the US will not be granted asylum if they passed through a third country on route without seeking protection there.

NINTCHDBPICT000521190813 - Trump hails ‘BIG WIN’ as US Supreme Court backs his plan to block migrants from claiming asylum
AP:Associated Press

President Trump wants to limit the number of migrants from Central America claiming asylum in the US[/caption]

NINTCHDBPICT000521137373 - Trump hails ‘BIG WIN’ as US Supreme Court backs his plan to block migrants from claiming asylum
Reuters

A Supreme Court decision today overturned a lower court ruling from July blocking the policy[/caption]

The rule will mean far fewer migrants from countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, who have to pass through Mexico to reach the US’s southern border, will be eligible for asylum in the US.

Legal challenges against the policy will continue, but it can for now be enforced.

President Trump took to twitter to hail the Supreme Court decision, writing: “BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!”

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice said the ruling would help “bring order to the crisis at the southern border, close loopholes in our immigration system and discourage frivolous claims”.

Recent years have seen a spike in the number of migrants fleeing economic poverty and violence in Central America.

In late 2018, the issue received issued media attention when a so-called caravan of around 7,000 people crossed Mexico’s southern border and continued a march through the country towards the US.

Many continue to risk their lives to make the trip, and in June images showed the bodies of 25-year-old Óscar Ramírez and his two-year-old daughter Valeria, both drowned attempting to cross the Rio Grande river.

LEGAL CHALLENGES TO CONTINUE

The issue of illegal migration has long been the topic of fractious political debate in the US, and has been a major part of the president’s platform before and since taking office.

Among the defining planks of his 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to build a wall along the entire length of the 2,000-mile border that separates the US and Mexico.

His administration unveiled the new policy in July, but it was blocked almost immediately by a lower court ruling in San Francisco.

It may yet come back to the Supreme Court once ongoing legal challenges have concluded.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which fought the Supreme Court case, said the ban would “eliminate virtually all asylum at the southern border, even at ports of entry, for everyone except Mexicans”.

Lee Gelerent, a lawyer acting for the group, said today’s ruling was a “temporary step” and that he remained confident it could be challenged.

“The lives of thousands of families are at stake,” he said.

Mexican officials have in recent months been working with the Trump administration to reduce the number of migrants travelling through Mexico towards the US.

But they have so far resisted attempts to have them designated a safe country in which migrants could claim asylum, and foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard reiterated this week that Mexico would not become a “third country” for US-bound asylum seekers.

NINTCHDBPICT000519238600 - Trump hails ‘BIG WIN’ as US Supreme Court backs his plan to block migrants from claiming asylum
This summer saw Mexican authorities forced to stop groups of migrants travelling from Central America towards the US
AP:Associated Press

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