US Supreme Court Rules for Expedient Removal of Asylum Seeker From Sri Lanka

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The Supreme Court has ruled that the Asylum Seekers will have to prove in their initial determination that they need Asylum. They will also not be required to give hearing in Federal Court before being removed. If the claim fails, they do not have rights for writ of Habeas Corpus.

Background

Vijaykumar Thuraissigiam is a Sri Lankan national. He was stopped 25 yards after crossing the US border. He was bought under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act, 1996. Also, he was detained for expedient removal. The Asylum Officer rejected his demonstration of credible fear of prosecution. The Immigration Judge affirmed the same. He then filed a habeas corpus petition. This was for fear of persecution on his Tamil ethnicity and political views. The District Court rejected it while the Ninth Circuit reversed it. The Court held that there is a violation of Suspension Clause and also the Due Process Clause. Thus, they appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Act’s Summary

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act, 1996 was designed to improve the Border Security and Control. The Act allows deportation of illegal or undocumented immigrants. There is also a provision to apply against expedient removal in way of seeking asylum. The applicant will have to prove to the Asylum Officer a credible fear of persecution. That, full entitlement is given to him. This is to the extent of a full consideration in a standard removal hearing.
There is also a chain of appeal over the decision of the Asylum Officer. The rejection of credible fear by the asylum officer will be under the review of the Supervisor. An appeal to the Immigration Judge is the next step. The act limits review of the Federal Court. The Court may not review the determination that the applicant lacks credible fear of persecution.

Respondent’s Arguments

Many issues came up about the expedient removal decision by the Asylum Officer. The decision has unchecked authority. The Immigration Officer serves both as Prosecutor and Judge. The council for Vijaykumar also stated that he was the textbook example of Tamil repression in Sri Lanka. Many experts affirmed this, when asked to comment on this issue. The process went about in the absence of a lawyer and a translator. This caused discrepancies in interviewing and the decision making of the Asylum Office.

The Court’s Opinion

The Court interpreted the two main issues of the Suspension Clause and Due Process Clause. The Suspension Clause provides that the writ of Habeas Corpus cannot be suspended. This is only in cases of rebellion or invasion and public safety. The Court also held that the writ provides for the release from unlawful detention. But the respondent is seeking an opportunity for asylum rather than mere release. Therefore, his claims fall outside the scope of the writ.
 The Court held Due Process Clause as non-violative in nature. The Clause establishes that for aliens seeking initial entry, the decision of the Administrative Officers, acting within the powers is the due process of law.
The respondent argued against this. He contended that he was already 25 yards into the territory, the rule would be ineffective. Thus, the Court held that the intent of the Clause is not to become ineffective as soon as unlawful entry of the alien into US soil.

The Court’s Decision

Justice Samuel Alito gave the decision. J. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented from the judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader agreed with the decision so far as it concerns with Mr. Vijaykumar’s case.

The Court ruled that the suspension clause is not in violation. The asylum seeker doesn’t have to give hearing in the federal court before removal. The failure of initial claim is enough for removal from the country. It held that the due process clause is also not in violation. The decision of the ninth circuit was reversed and remanded.


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