Ninth Circuit Court Rules in Favor of Asylum Seekers — Blocks Some ‘Fast Track’ Deportations

According to reporting from The New York Times, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of asylum seekers who were facing possible ‘fast track’ deportation from the Trump Administration. In the case of Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam v. United States Department of Homeland Security, the appeals court broadened protections for vulnerable migrants. Here, our Los Angeles asylum attorney provides an overview of this case and explains the implications for asylum seekers in California.

The Issue: Do Asylum Seekers Who “Fail” an Initial Screening Have the Right to Appeal?

Background

Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam is a native of Sri Lanka and a member of the country’s Tamil ethnic minority. He fled to the United States after being beaten and tortured in his home country. Upon arrival, he requested asylum. His claim was denied. During an initial screening, United States immigration officers assessed that Mr. Thuraissigiam did not have a “credible fear of persecution”. They ordered deportation via expedited removal.

Under U.S. federal law, expedited removal is restricted to undocumented immigrants who are detained within 100 miles of the border and who cannot provide proof that they have been in the country for more than two weeks.

The Appeal

Mr. Thuraissigiam challenged the expedited removal. In his appeal, he noted that the initial immigration screeners failed to elicit material information — including the fact that he has been detained, beaten, and nearly killed by authorities in Sri Lanka. In addition, he argued that there were serious language-related communication problems between him, his translator, and the asylum official. The question at stake before the Ninth Circuit: Is expedited removal lawful in this type of case. Should asylum seekers who “fail” an initial screening have the right to file an appeal on that issue?

The Decision

In reviewing the case, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit ruled that immigrants who have been ordered to be deported are entitled to an appeal. Regardless of a person’s immigration status, they still have important constitutional rights, including habeas corpus rights. This is a significant victory for asylum seekers. As Lee Gelernt — the Deputy Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project — told the reporters from The New York Times, the “importance of this ruling cannot be overstated”. For now, the Ninth Circuit’s decision covers California and seven other western states. Though, it should be noted that the ruling conflicts with a recent case arising out of the Third Circuit. The Trump Administration is expected to appeal and it is likely that this issue will eventually make its way before the Supreme Court.

Get Help From Our Los Angeles Asylum Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are committed to providing strong, effective legal guidance to asylum seekers in Southern California. If you or your loved one needs immigration law help, please do not hesitate to contact us today to arrange a strictly confidential initial consultation with an experienced Los Angeles asylum attorney. Call (213) 262-2000.