The Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration by a 7-2 vote Thursday, deciding that immigrants in fast-tracked asylum proceedings whose claims have been denied early on in the process do not have the right to sue in federal court to appeal the decision.
The country’s highest court determined asylum-seekers were not entitled to habeas corpus, which would give them recourse to protest an expedited deportation. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the Sri Lankan asylum-seeker in the suit, expects the decision will affect several thousand immigrants who make asylum claims after illegally entering the country.
The plaintiff, Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, was arrested after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California. He told the Customs and Border Protection officer who interviewed him that he feared being returned to Sri Lanka because he had been kidnapped by government intelligence officials and tortured. Thuraissigiam said he was knocked unconscious and woke up in a hospital, where he decided to flee to the United States.
The officer who interviewed Thuraissigiam decided that the asylum-seeker did not have a credible fear because he lacked evidence proving he was targeted. U.S. policy states that asylum-seekers must prove their lives are at risk due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political affiliation.