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Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Thuraissigiam

Supreme Court of the United States

March 2, 2020, Argued; June 25, 2020, Decided

No. 19-161.


 [*1963]   [**435]  Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of aliens are apprehended at or near the border attempting to enter this country illegally. Many ask for asylum, claiming that they would be persecuted if returned to their home countries. Some of these claims are valid, and by granting asylum, the United States lives up to its ideals and its treaty obligations. Most asylum [***6]  claims, however, ultimately fail, and some are fraudulent. In 1996, when Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), 110 Stat. 3009-546, it crafted a system for weeding out patently meritless claims and expeditiously removing the aliens making such claims from the country. It was Congress’s judgment that detaining all asylum seekers until the full-blown removal process is completed would place an unacceptable burden on our immigration system and that releasing them would present an undue risk that they would fail to appear for removal proceedings.

This case concerns the constitutionality of the system Congress devised. Among other things, IIRIRA placed restrictions on the ability of asylum seekers to obtain review under the federal habeas statute, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that these restrictions are unconstitutional. According to the Ninth Circuit, they unconstitutionally suspend the writ of habeas corpus and violate asylum seekers’ right to due process. We now review that decision and reverse.

Respondent’s Suspension Clause argument fails because it would extend the writ of habeas corpus far beyond its scope “when [***7]  the Constitution was drafted and ratified.” Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U. S. 723, 746, 128 S. Ct. 2229, 171 L. Ed. 2d 41 (2008). Indeed, respondent’s use of the writ would have been unrecognizable at that time. Habeas has traditionally been a means to secure release from unlawful detention, but respondent invokes the writ to achieve an entirely different end, namely, to obtain additional administrative review of his asylum claim and ultimately to obtain authorization to stay in this country.

Respondent’s due process argument fares no better. ] While aliens who have  [*1964]  established connections in this country have due process rights in deportation proceedings, the Court long ago held that Congress is entitled to set the conditions for an alien’s lawful entry into this country and that, as a result, an alien at the threshold of initial entry cannot claim any greater rights under the Due Process Clause. See Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, 142 U. S. 651, 660, 12 S. Ct. 336, 35 L. Ed. 1146 (1892). Respondent attempted to enter the country illegally and was apprehended just 25 yards from the border. He therefore has no entitlement to procedural rights other than those afforded by statute.

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140 S. Ct. 1959 *; 207 L. Ed. 2d 427 **; 2020 U.S. LEXIS 3375 ***; 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 372


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


Thuraissigiam v. United States Dep't of Homeland Sec., 917 F.3d 1097, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6845 (9th Cir. Cal., May 17, 2018)

Disposition: 917 F. 3d 1097, reversed and remanded.


immigration, corpus, asylum, alien, noncitizen, detained, expedited, detention, suspension, custody, credible, persecution, common-law, credible-fear, deportation, suspended, arriving, border, deserters, bail, imprisonment, apprehended, extradition, detainees, sovereign, territory, sailor, slave, interview, suspicion

Immigration Law, Constitutional Foundations, Due Process, Grounds for Deportation & Removal, Inadmissibility at Entry, Unlawful Presence, Deportation & Removal, Administrative Proceedings, Hearing Procedures, Hearing Requirement Exceptions, Bond, Custody & Detention, Asylum, Refugees & Related Relief, Asylum, Eligibility for Asylum, Administrative Proceedings, Judicial Review, Petitions for Review, Constitutional Law, Congressional Duties & Powers, Suspension Clause, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, Necessity of Determination