Rep. Omar calls Supreme Court asylum decision “legally and morally wrong”

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who has solidified herself as one of leading progressive voices in the Democratic Party, denounced a decision last week by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court that allowed the Trump administration to enforce a sweeping restriction on those who can seek asylum at the southern border, saying the nation’s high court has made unjust rulings throughout American history. 

“I believe that decision is morally and legally wrong,” Omar said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “Seeking asylum is a legal right that people have and we know that the Supreme Court has been wrong before. They’ve been wrong in the equal but separation doctrine decision, they’ve been wrong in the Dred Scott decision.”

Omar referred to the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson ruling in 1896 that effectively sanctioned racial segregation in public spaces, as well as to the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, in which the court’s majority said African Americans, freed or enslaved, were not U.S. citizens and had no standing to seek their freedom or another relief in court. 

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order to lift two nationwide injunctions by a federal judge in California that had prohibited the administration from implementing the ban. The controversial rule renders most migrants from Central America or other parts of the world ineligible or asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, barring limited exceptions. 

The rule, a joint effort by the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, restricts the U.S. asylum system to migrants who transited through a third country like Mexico to reach the U.S. and failed to seek asylum or another form of protection there. 

Administration officials believe the change will deter people who they refer to as “economic migrants.” However, immigrant advocates fear it will place vulnerable asylum seekers, including families with small children, in precarious situations in areas of Mexico or Central America plagued by rampant insecurity and poverty. 

Omar said the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the policy to be implemented while the legal challenges to it proceed in court should motivate her fellow Democrats to advocate for more progressive policies on immigration. 

“We now have an opportunity to do as legislators is make sure that we are creating immigration policy that is humane and just,” she added.

But she conceded that Democratic proposals on immigration, like bills to place Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other undocumented immigrants on a pathway to U.S. citizenship, will continue to face a road block in the Republican-led Senate. 

“Many of the policies that we’ve been advocating for, many that are currently sitting at the doorsteps of Mitch McConnell, will create a positive impact on how our immigration system is carried out,” Omar said. 

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