Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Cases On Border Wall, Asylum Seekers

( Challenges to President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” plan will be heard by the Supreme Court, it announced Monday.

The court will take up cases that concern the border wall and a policy that requires those seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while their hearings in the United States are pending. It’s unlikely that either of the cases in question will be heard before the end of 2020. However, the simple fact that they will be heard could play a role in the upcoming presidential election.

The case regarding the border wall has to do with the White House’s efforts to transfer funds from the Pentagon to build more barriers along the United States’ border with Mexico. According to lower court rulings, the administration doesn’t have the authority to transfer these $2.5 billion in funds.

The Supreme Court previously allowed border wall construction to continue while the case made its way through the legal appeals process.

The case in question pertains to sections of the border wall that would be built along three southwestern states. Some of the area where it will be built it along protected public land.

In February of last year, the president declared the situation along the country’s southern border a national emergency. By doing so, he instructed the Department of Homeland Security to request assistance from the Defense Department to construct “fences, roads and lighting” in an attempt to block areas where drug smugglers often cross into America.

Opponents including the states of New Mexico and California, the American Civil Liberties Union and some environmental groups have argued DHS exceeded its authority when it tried to circumvent Congress.

In court papers, the Justice Department has argued the funds transfer was legitimate since it was because of national security concerns. The statement said:

“The challenged transfers have allowed DOD to undertake the construction of more than 100 miles of fencing (and associated roads and lighting) in areas identified by DHS as drug smuggling corridors, where DHS has seized thousands of pounds of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine between ports of entry in recent years.”

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, roughly 360 miles of barriers along the border have been constructed under Trump so far, with about 15 of those miles being where no border previously existed.

The other case the Supreme Court agreed to hear concerns the asylum seeker policy. Jeffrey Wall, the acting solicitor general, has said the program has been “extremely effective” at reducing the strain on the capacity at U.S. immigration detention centers, improving the efficiency of asylum applications in the process.

Eleven asylum seekers have challenged the policy. They are represented by the ACLU. They have urged the Supreme Court to not take up the case, and to allow a lower court opinion that blocks this policy to stand.

On Monday, the lead counsel in the lawsuit, Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU, said:

“Asylum seekers face grave danger every day this illegal and depraved policy is in effect. The courts have repeatedly ruled against it, and the Supreme Court should as well.”