The Supreme Court ruled that immigrants at risk of being tortured in their home countries can challenge their deportation in federal appeals court.
Monday’s 7-2 ruling rejected the Trump administration’s argument that illegal immigrants have no right to judicial review if the international Convention Against Torture (CAT) denies their relief request.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the opinion for the majority.
The Hill’s Harper Neidig reports:
“It would be easy enough for Congress to preclude judicial review of factual challenges to CAT orders, just as Congress has precluded judicial review of factual challenges to certain final orders of removal,” Kavanaugh wrote. “But Congress has not done so, and it is not the proper role of the courts to rewrite the laws passed by Congress and signed by the President.”
The challenge was brought by Nidal Khalid Nasrallah, a legal permanent resident who came to the U.S. in 2006. The government moved to deport Nasrallah after he was convicted of buying stolen cigarettes from undercover federal agents and sentenced to a year in prison.
An immigration judge ruled that Nasrallah qualified for a deportation deferral because he’s a member of the Druze religious minority, which has been subject to persecution in Lebanon from the militant political group Hezbollah.
The Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the order, saying that Nasrallah had not sufficiently proved that he was at risk of being tortured if he were to be returned to Lebanon. Nasrallah appealed the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the case.
The two dissenting justices were Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.