In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that illegal aliens in the United States cannot seek a writ of habeas corpus to avoid detention and deportation.
Habeas corpus is the legal principle that protects individuals from unlawful, arbitrary detention. In DHS v. Thuraissigiam, the Wall Street Journal reported, “a Sri Lankan man caught within 25 yards of the Mexican border without documentation claimed that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA)’s expedited removal process violated the Suspension Clause.” The Court has held that the Constitution’s Suspension Clause protects the writ.
The plaintiff, Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, initially attempted to exploit asylum law to avoid deportation after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California. “Illegal immigrants caught at the border merely need to convince asylum officers that they have a ‘credible fear’ of prosecution in their homeland to be allowed to stay in the U.S,” the Journal adds. “Over the last five years more than three-quarters of asylum claimants have passed this ‘credible fear’ test.”
When Thuraissigiam’s bid for asylum failed, he claimed IIRIRA violated the Suspension Clause.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito noted: “‘[h]abeas is at its core a remedy for unlawful executive detention’ and that what these individuals wanted was not ‘simple release’ but an order requiring them to be brought to this country. Claims so far outside the ‘core’ of habeas may not be pursued through habeas.”
The decision is being hailed as a victory for President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement agenda.