FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, migrants seeking asylum in the United States line up for a meal provided by volunteers near the international bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. The U.S. government will expand its policy requiring asylum seekers…
FILE - Migrants seeking asylum in the United States line up for a meal provided by volunteers near the international bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, April 30, 2019.

GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency is expressing concern about the negative impact of Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on people seeking asylum in the United States. The ruling affirms the Trump Administration’s policy that denies asylum to anyone who does not seek protection in countries through which they pass before reaching the U.S. border.

The ruling allows the Trump Administration to impose restrictions on asylum seekers while several lower court cases continue against the policy.  Until then, the U.N. refugee agency is reluctant to weigh in on the question of its legality.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says his agency has taken note of the Supreme Court decision, which does not address the substance of the policy, but was issued with reference to proceedings going forward in the lower courts.

He says the UNHCR regrets the impact, however, that implementation will have on people seeking asylum.

“We reiterate that any person fleeing violence or persecution must be able to access full and effective asylum procedures and international protection. Our concern is with the people, families, unaccompanied children and other individuals moving through Mexico today from Central America and elsewhere who are in urgent need of safe haven,” Mahecic said.  

Mahecic says it is imperative to quickly identify these people and provide them with the safety and assistance they deserve and need.  He says the UNHCR trusts the U.S. courts to make a final decision based on the merits of the case and one that reflects the protection risks involved.

Under the Trump Administration policy, people must stay in Mexico until they have a court date in the United States to make their case for asylum.  

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 36,500 people currently are on the Mexican side of the border.  It says it does not know how many of them, though, are formal asylum seekers.