Victory! Supreme Court Tightens Asylum Review

Press Releases

June 25, 2020

High Court agrees with IRLI, reverses Ninth Circuit

WASHINGTON—Today the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case with major implications for the efficiency of our illegal alien removal system. At issue was whether an alien caught at the border and subject to expedited removal from the U.S. because his claim of fear of persecution in his native land has been found non-credible by three levels of immigration officials is entitled to yet further review—in the federal courts—of that same claim. The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case supporting the government.

The petitioner, a Sri Lankan national, argued that the right of habeas corpus entitled him to extra review, and the Ninth Circuit agreed. The Supreme Court, however, noted that the writ of habeas corpus has always been a mechanism for gaining release from unlawful detention, not a means of seeking any other benefit. The Court observed that the government would have been happy to release the petitioner in the cabin of an airplane bound for Sri Lanka, but that is not what he wanted. And what he did seek—protracted review of his asylum claim by the federal courts—was outside the scope of habeas corpus.

“The Court made absolutely the right call in this case,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Habeas was never designed to overrule Congress’s decisions about what procedural rights to grant aliens who enter our country unlawfully, much less to give illegal aliens the right to stay in the United States. All aliens in the petitioner’s position are free to leave detention by leaving the country, so the writ has zero applicability to them. Today’s decision will allow expedited removal to work as intended, and prevent the further clogging of a removal system already severely overburdened due to decades of neglect.”

The case is Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, No. 19-161 (Supreme Court).

For additional information, contact:

Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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