After some recent disappointments for conservatives, the Supreme Court got it right on Thursday when it ruled in a 7-2 decision that migrants denied asylum are not entitled to additional denial appeals beyond those established by Congress.
The justices reversed a misguided decision by the 9th Circuit that had said congressionally established restrictions violated the due process rights of those who enter the country.
Each year, the government apprehends hundreds of thousands of migrants near the border attempting to enter the country illegally. Many of those migrants then request asylum because it increases their chances of staying. But it would clog the system if every asylum-seeker were entitled to indefinite appeals of denied requests. Thus, Congress in 1996 passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The intention was to set up an expedited process that could quickly filter out dubious claims while allowing more time to examine the rest. To that end, the law prevented these asylum-seekers from appealing decisions under the federal habeas statute.
The current case was triggered by Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan National who crossed the southern border without an entry document and was stopped after just 25 yards. He claimed he shouldn’t be removed on an expedited basis because he had a “credible fear of persecution.” An asylum officer rejected the claim, and that decision was supported by a supervising officer and an immigration judge.
Thuraissigiam sued, and the case eventually made it to the liberal 9th Circuit, which ruled that the decision violated the constitutional restriction on suspending habeas corpus and also Thuraissigiam’s due process rights.
The judgment of the 9th Circuit was rejected not only by the five conservative justices but also by two liberals — Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In writing the opinion of the court, Justice Samuel Alito correctly noted that the 9th Circuit’s conclusion would extend habeas well beyond the way it was initially intended by the U.S. Constitution, and noted, “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.”
Alito also carefully smacked down the even more dubious due process claim. “Respondent attempted to enter the country illegally and was apprehended just 25 yards from the border,” he writes. “He therefore has no entitlement to procedural rights other than those afforded by statute.”
The United States is a nation of laws. It extends a vast number of rights to those seeking to appeal decisions made by the government and courts. But it is absurd to think that Congress cannot set limits on the rights of illegal immigrants to appeal asylum decisions just because they happened to set foot on the U.S. side of the border before being apprehended.
Fundamentally, this decision recognizes that not everybody who crosses the U.S. border for any reason instantly enjoys all of the same rights as U.S. citizens.
The Washington Examiner