The Supreme Court handed US President Donald Trump a victory Thursday, ruling his administration can deport some migrants seeking asylum without their case going before a federal judge.
The case before the court centered on Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan national who said he would face harm or death if he was deported to his home country. He is of the Tamil minority group and crossed the US-Mexico border illegally shortly before he was taken into custody and set for expedited removal.
Thuraissigiam lost his bid for asylum with an immigration judge, and sought to challenge the decision in federal court saying he feared persecution because of his ethnicity and political views.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority that a federal immigration law “for weeding out patently meritless claims and expeditiously removing the aliens making such claims from the country” allows for asylum-seekers to be deported without receiving a federal hearing.
“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,” he wrote.
Seven justices sided with the administration, but Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not join in the opinion issued by Alito.
The ruling now allows the administration to fast-track deportation for people apprehended near the border and who fail initial asylum claim screenings.
Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent that the decision “handcuffs the Judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers.”
She was joined by Elena Kagan, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court nominated by ex-President Barack Obama in May 2010.
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