The U.S. Supreme court ruled today in a 7-2 decision that the Department of Homeland Security can deport asylum seekers in expedited processes without a hearing in court. In what is a considered a win for the Trump administration, the case stems from a Sri Lankan farmer who lost his bid for asylum in the United States after immigration officials ordered his removal.
The ruling today, will keep courthouses closed to asylum seekers in expedited removal processes who say they cannot return home because they have a credible fear of torture or death. This is very significant, especially for Africans who have found a new route of entering into the U.S, illegally through South America to Mexico, and seeking asylum at the border. Today's ruling means they can be removed in an expedited process without going through the judicial process, only the decision of the officer.
Justice Alito who wrote the decision, said "If courts must review credible fear claims that in the eyes of immigration officials and an immigration judge do not meet the low bar for such claims, expedited removal would augment the burdens on that system".
The ruling would affect many asylum seeker in the future by stripping away the opportunity to go to federal court to contest a negative finding by immigration officials.
According to CNN, currently undocumented immigrants are caught within 100 miles of a land border and within 14 days of arrival, are subject to expedited removal without further hearing or review. If an individual seeks asylum, they are provided additional screening before an asylum officer and an immigration judge to determine whether the person has a credible fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home countries.
Thuraissigian, a Sri Lankan, entered the U.S. illegally, and was arrested in Mexico. He applied for asylum, but was denied the chance to seek the asylum. The Officer determined that he had not established a credible fear of persecution - a decision that was affirmed by the Supervisor and an immigration judge. Under this ruling, he cannot challenge the decision in federal court.
According to Lawyers for the ACLU who represented Mr. Thuraissigian, "every person within a U.S. territory is entitled to due process". This ruling, however, takes that away from asylum seekers.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the dissenting minority opinion agreed with the ACLU stating that the impact of the majority ruling "will leave exercises of executive discretion unchecked", and that the Court "Justifies its decision by pointing to perceived vulnerabilities and abuses in the asylum system".
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