Yahoo reports the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared unlikely Monday to give asylum seekers claiming fear of persecution abroad a federal court hearing to avoid quick removal from the United States.
While the court’s conservatives and liberals seemed divided on the question, a turning point came near the end of the one-hour oral argument when Chief Justice John Roberts said the case could lead to a “significant expansion” of new claims.
“Anybody can get to a point of entry,” Roberts said, prompting the lawyer representing Sri Lanka native Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam to acknowledge that about 9,500 asylum seekers fit the same category.
Only 30 petitions for federal court hearings have been filed so far, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt said. But Justice Department Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said the figure is closer to 100 and warned of “the potential for a flood” of cases if the Supreme Court rules for Thuraissigiam.
The case represents a crucial test of the Trump administration’s effort to speed the removal of thousands of migrants without granting federal court hearings. The process is allowed under a law passed by Congress in 1996.
The California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which has drawn Trump’s ire for its decisions on immigration, ruled last year that efforts to remove asylum seekers under such “expedited removal” procedures violated their constitutional rights.
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