Supreme Court: Expedited Removal is For Asylum Seekers Who Enter Illegally

Score another victory for fast-track deportations of those attempting to game the system.

On the heels of an appellate court ruling clearing the way for more expedited removals of illegal aliens, the U.S. Supreme Court did the same in a case of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker.

In a 7-2 decision, the high court said asylum seekers do not have a right to federal court hearings before being deported from the U.S. Affirming the government’s authority to speedily remove asylum applicants, Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion:

“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.”

In other words, constitutional rights of due process do not automatically apply to migrants simply because they illegally set foot on U.S. soil.

The case at issue involved Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a native of Sri Lanka. After he was arrested in 2017 just 25 yards north of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration officials determined he did not qualify for asylum status because he lacked “credible fear of persecution” if returned to his home country.

The Supreme Court decision, overturning a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruling, could mean fast-track deportation for thousands of asylum seekers. An estimated 9,500 asylum applicants have claims similar to Thuraissigiam’s, and justices expressed concern that granting him a hearing could trigger a flood of new court contests.

The Trump administration asserts that the U.S. asylum system is abused and, indeed, data show that a growing majority of claims fail on the merits.

Obama-appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan argued that the high court “handcuff[ed]the judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers.”

But Trump administration lawyers pointed to legal precedents that distinguish between people who lawfully enter the country, and those who arrive illegally. Immigration laws enacted by Congress provide expedited removal as a tool to expel those attempting to game the system with meritless claims.

The court’s action was consistent with a deportation policy review by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., just days earlier. In that case, Judge Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee, concluded that federal statutes give the Department of Homeland Security secretary “sole and unreviewable discretion” to conduct expedited removal of illegal aliens, within certain constraints.

The high court has now affirmed that bogus asylum seekers are subject to the same administrative authority under the law.

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