Supreme Court betrays 'bedrock principle' of due process in devastating new ruling on asylum seekers
The ACLU warned Thursday that people's lives could be "in grave danger" following the Supreme Court's ruling allowing for fast-tracked deportations of certain asylum seekers.
The ruling was 7-2, with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting.
Currently, undocumented immigrants who are caught within 100 miles of a land border and within 14 days of arrival are subject to an expedited removal process and can be ordered removed without further hearing or review. If the individual seeks asylum, however, he or she is provided additional screening before an asylum officer, a supervisory officer, and an immigration judge to determine whether the person has a credible fear of persecution or torture if returned to his or her home country.
The high court's ruling means that if the asylum seeker fails that initial screening, they can face "expedited removal."
"While aliens who have established connections in this country have due process rights in deportation proceedings, the court long ago held that Congress is entitled to set the conditions for an alien's lawful entry into this country and that, as a result, an alien at the threshold of initial entry cannot claim any greater rights under the Due Process Clause," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.
Sotomayor warned in her dissent, "Taken to its extreme, a rule conditioning due process rights on lawful entry would permit Congress to constitutionally eliminate all procedural protections for any non-citizen the Government deems unlawfully admitted and summarily deport them no matter how many decades they have lived here, how settled and integrated they are in their communities, or how many members of their family are U.S. citizens or residents."
As NBC News reported,
The ruling was a defeat for Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam of Sri Lanka, who was detained by federal agents 25 yards north of the U.S.-Mexico border. He said that as a member of his home country's Tamil minority, he faced harm if returned and had once been kidnapped and beaten, though he said he wasn't sure why he was assaulted. When his asylum claim was rejected, he sought help in federal court by filing a habeas corpus petition, invoking the Constitution's guarantee against unlawful detention. But the Supreme Court said the option wasn't open to him.
Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as USA Today reported, "agreed with the judgment but said they would have applied it only to Thuraissigiam's claim."
The decision drew sharp rebuke from ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the case.
"This 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," said Gelernt. "This decision means that some people facing flawed deportation orders can be forcibly removed with no judicial oversight, putting their lives in grave danger."
The ruling is a win for the President Donald Trump, who's made anti-immigrant policies a centerpiece of his administration.