Justices boost Trump’s power in asylum cases
WASHINGTON » The Supreme Court on Thursday strengthened the Trump administration’s ability to deport people seeking asylum without allowing them to make their case to a federal judge.
Immigration experts suggested the administration would use sweeping language in the majority opinion to bolster broader efforts to restrict asylum.
The high court’s 7-2 ruling applies to people who are picked up at or near the border and who fail their initial asylum screenings, making them eligible for quick deportation, or expedited removal.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the high-court opinion that reversed a lowercourt ruling that said asylum-seekers must have access to the federal courts.
Congress acted properly in creating a system “for weeding out patently meritless claims and expeditiously removing the aliens making such claims from the country,” Alito wrote.
He noted that more than three-quarters of people who sought to claim asylum in the past five years passed their initial screening and qualified for full-blown review.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer agreed with the outcome in this case, but did not join Alito’s opinion.
In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “Today’s decision handcuffs the Judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty.” She was joined by Justice Elena Kagan.
Lee Gelernt, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who argued the case in the Supreme Court, said the outcome will make it hard to question the actions of immigration officials at the U.S. border. “This decision will impact potentially tens of thousands of people at the border who will not be able to seek review of erroneous denials of asylum,” Gelernt said.
The Supreme Court is seen in Washington on June 15.