Below are initial comments on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling re: Central American refugees from the University of Notre Dame's Erin Corcoran, executive director of the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies. She is an immigration lawyer by training and an expert in U.S. immigration law and policy; refugee and asylum law; protection of vulnerable migrant populations; and human trafficking. She is available by email at [email protected] or cell phone at 202-549-2067. Notre Dame has an on-campus studio, so we can easily arrange radio and TV interviews.
"The Court's 7-2 decision last night leaving in place the current administration's rule limiting access to the U.S. asylum process is troubling for several reasons. This rule effectively bans anyone entering from the southern border from applying for asylum, including unaccompanied children and families. It places these individuals at serious risk of harm while remaining in countries like Mexico and Guatemala. In addition to these humanitarian considerations, it violates existing U.S. refugee law.
Congress has specifically identified the two narrow reasons a person is barred from seeking asylum because of protections in a third country: if the person has been granted permanent protection in a third country or if there is a formal safe third country agreement where a third country is willing to receive the asylum seeker and can guarantee the individual will be safe. It is important that a third country can guarantee safety to an asylum seeker and that the individual does not face harm in the third country. The administration's rule effectively requires Guatemalans to apply for asylum in Mexico and Hondurans and Salvadorans to apply for asylum in Guatemala -- neither of which are safe for asylum seekers.
This summer, the Guatemala Constitutional Court ruled that Guatemala cannot guarantee safety for asylum seekers and Mexico is still refusing to accept the U.S. request to be a safe third country for asylum seekers. Given these realities, the administration's rule effectively eliminates U.S. asylum protections for Central Americans."