FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Will Dunham/File Photo


In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that asylum-seekers whose initial claims were denied by immigration officials do not have the right to a hearing before a judge. Justice Samuel Alito stated in the majority opinion that “the credible-fear process and abuses of it can increase the burdens currently ‘overwhelming our immigration system.'” In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan stated that the ruling “handcuffs the Judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers.”

The justices ruled in the case of Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, who said he fled persecution as a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority and was arrested shortly after crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. Though the asylum officer who arrested him believed that he had been abducted and beaten resulting in an 11-day hospital stay, Thuraissigiam’s application was rejected due to an inability to identify his attackers or establish their motives. He was subsequently placed in the “expedited removal” system.

The American Civil Liberties Union represented him in his petition for habeas review, which the U.S. government challenged “on the grounds that neither the Constitution nor the writ of habeas corpus guarantee judicial review to asylum seekers.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that the expedited removal statute violated the suspension clause. On March 2, 2020, the Supreme Court heard the case, which was argued by ACLU Attorney Lee Gelernt.

Dale Wilcox, executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, said, “All aliens in the petitioner’s position are free to leave detention by leaving the country, so the writ has zero applicability to them. Today’s decision will allow expedited removal to work as intended, and prevent the further clogging of a removal system already severely overburdened due to decades of neglect.”

Cornell University law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration expert, stated, “Justice Alito used sweeping language in his majority opinion upholding Congress’s efforts to limit due process for arriving immigrants. While not necessary to the precise holding in the case, the Trump administration is sure to use such language to justify its broader efforts to restrict asylum seekers.”


Supreme Court Says Rejected Asylum Seekers Have No Right to Object in Court – The New York Times – 6/25/2020
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, allowing them to continue to use a program that shields them from deportation and allows them to work. Thursday’s decision, which barred immigrants whose asylum claims were rejected in bare-bones proceedings from filing petitions for habeas corpus, struck a strikingly different note.

Supreme Court Sides with Trump Admin. in Landmark Asylum Case – National Review – 6/25/2020
The court ruled that asylum seekers detained inside the U.S., including Thuraissigiam who was detained 25 yards inside the border, should be treated the same as people detained at the border itself. This means that the government is entitled to reject asylum applications at the intake level, without appeal, for foreigners who are detained anywhere inside U.S. borders.

The Supreme Court Just Took a Hammer to the Asylum Process – The Nation – 6/26/2020
This week’s reminder of this country’s wanton cruelty toward immigrants comes from the Supreme Court’s decision in DHS v. Thuraissigiam. The court ruled, by a vote of 7-2, that the Constitution doesn’t allow an asylum seeker to petition for a writ of habeas corpus. 

Supreme Court hands Trump administration win on deportation powers – Fox News – 6/25/2020
The Trump administration is seeking to expand authority so that people detained anywhere in the U.S. and up to two years after they got here could be quickly deported. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court threw out a trial judge’s ruling that had blocked the expanded policy. Other legal issues remain to be resolved in the case.


Barbara Lee on Twitter, 6/26/2020: This is a devastating loss for our country. Thousands of asylum-seekers will now be denied their right to a hearing, resulting in fast-track deportations for thousands of immigrants seeking safety. Unbelievable.

Fox & Friends First on Twitter, 6/26/2020: The Supreme Court hands the Trump Administration a major win on deportation powers. Border Patrol Union President, Brandon Judd, gives his take on how the ruling will help protect America’s borders.

Rep. Linda Sánchez on Twitter, 6/25/2020: ‘m disappointed with this morning’s decision from #SCOTUS, which deprives asylum seekers of their day in federal court. This increases the risk of wrongful deportation and runs counter to our proud tradition of welcoming refugees.

Lindsey Graham on Twitter, 6/25/2020: Very pleased to see the Supreme Court uphold expedited removal of meritless asylum claims. This decision by the Supreme Court will substantially help shut down the magnet that our asylum laws have created for illegal immigration.

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