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The Supreme Court bolstered the Trump administration’s powers Thursday to quickly remove illegal immigrant asylum-seekers whose applications have been rejected.
In a 7-2 decision in the Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, the court ruled that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act does not violate the Suspension Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
What it means: In effect, the ruling means that the Trump administration has the power to deport people seeking asylum without “credible fear of persecution” if forced to return home and isn’t required to let them make a case to a federal judge.
The case involved a Sri Lankan man, Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, who was arrested on America’s southern border in 2017. Thuraissigiam was stopped just 25 yards after crossing the border without an entry document and an asylum officer rejected his “credible-fear” claim.
According to court records, the supervising officer and an immigration judge affirmed the immigration officer’s decision and Thuraissigiam was “detained for expedited removal.”
Following the decision, Thuraissigiam petitioned a federal court for habeas corpus, the ability to have a judge review someone’s detention and potentially grant them release should no lawful grounds be found for detaining them.
Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said: “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.”
“[Thuraissigiam] attempted to enter the country illegally and was apprehended just 25 yards from the border. He therefore has no entitlement to procedural rights other than those afforded by statute,” Alito added, citing the 1892 decision in Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, which ruled that foreigners without established connection in the U.S. cannot claim greater rights under the Due Process Clause.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the four conservatives on the court in the majority opinion. Justices Sonia Sotomayor filed the dissenting opinion and was joined by Justice Elena Kagan.
Sotomayor argued that the ruling “deprives [asylum-seekers] of any means to ensure the integrity of an expedited removal order, an order which, the Court has just held, is not subject to any meaningful judicial oversight as to its substance.”
The ruling is a big win for Trump, following two disappointing Supreme Court decisions for the Trump administration in high profile cases about gay and transgender rights and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The president has been seeking to expand the federal government’s powers to quickly deport detained asylum-seekers, according to Fox News.