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SCOTUS hands Trump admin decisive victory on asylum seekers and expedited deportation

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The U.S. Supreme Court sided with President Donald Trump in a deportation case that would allow the administration to deport certain people seeking asylum.

The 7-2 decision on Thursday ruled that those who fail their initial asylum screenings will be eligible for “expedited removal,” essentially allowing the administration to quickly deport them without allowing them to make a case to a federal judge.

The high-court opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, reversed a lower-court ruling in the case of a man named Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam who was arrested after he illegally came across the U.S. border from Mexico in 2017. He claimed he belonged to the Tamil ethnic minority group and fled his home country because he allegedly faced persecution. However, he was placed in expedited removal proceedings after failing to convince asylum officers and an immigration judge of his claims.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that, under the Constitution’s Suspension Clause, the expedited removal law was unconstitutional in Thuraissigiam’s case and violated his right to due process, but the Supreme Court reversed that on Thursday, after the Trump administration appealed.

In his opinion, Alito noted that the process immigration officials used in Thuraissigiam’s case was created by Congress “for weeding out patently meritless claims and expeditiously removing the aliens making such claims from the country.”

The Justice added that Thuraissigiam’s “argument fails because it would extend the writ of habeas corpus far beyond its scope ‘when the Constitution was drafted and ratified.’”

“Habeas has traditionally been a means to secure release from unlawful detention, but respondent invokes the writ to achieve an entirely different end, namely, to obtain additional administrative review of his asylum claim and ultimately to obtain authorization to stay in this country,” Alito added.

Thuraissigiam “attempted to enter the country illegally and was apprehended just 25 yards from the border,” Alito wrote, noting that the constitutional right of due process applies to “aliens who have established connections in this country.”

“He therefore has no entitlement to procedural rights other than those afforded by statute,” he added in the opinion which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

While Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurred with the ruling, they wrote separate opinions.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was joined in the dissenting opinion by Justice Elena Kagan, wrote, “Today’s decision handcuffs the Judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty.”

“It will leave significant exercises of executive discretion unchecked in the very circumstance where the writ’s protections ‘have been strongest,’” she wrote.

“This decision will impact potentially tens of thousands of people at the border who will not be able to seek review of erroneous denials of asylum,” American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt, who represented Thuraissigiam in the high court, said in a statement, according to Associated Press.

The ruling “fails to live up to the Constitution’s bedrock principle that individuals deprived of their liberty have their day in court, and this includes asylum seekers,” he said.

Last week, the Supreme Court struck down Trump’s bid to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program in a 5-4 decision, claiming it would be a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Trump administration has sought to aggressively deal with illegal immigration and has tried to expand its authority in the quick deportation of undocumented immigrants to include those who have been in the U.S. even up to two years. A ruling by a trial judge that blocked the expanded policy was thrown out by a federal appeals court on Tuesday.

 

Frieda Powers

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