Habeas petitions are a fundamental way to seek review of decisions where people are being held in custody. They have been used in the U.S. since 1789. In this case, the Supreme Court limited this recourse in the context of immigration. It upheld an administrative scheme for the expedited removal and deportation of immigrants without a judicial hearing, even those seeking asylum, if the person cannot prove to an immigration official that they have lived within the United States for more than two weeks, have a credible fear of persecution, or are apprehended within 100 miles of a border.

Here, Thuraissigiam, a Tamil political activist from Sri Lanka, was seeking asylum on the basis of political and ethnic persecution. Although a lower court ruled that the administrative scheme did not meet constitutional requirements, because it disallowed judicial review of whether the Department of Homeland Security had complied with procedures for credible fear determinations, the Supreme Court reversed the decision 7-2. This has crippled the process for those seeking asylum who do not have the ability to pursue legal entry and are forced to attempt to cross at a border.


who seek shelter in this country

may be cast to an unknown fate

as our constitutional protections

hinge on the vicissitudes of the political climate

and the Government and Court flatten

assertions of persecution

and Torture

Respondent’s due process argument fares no better. While aliens who have 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 (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.