Supreme Court Rejects Case From Environmentalists Challenging Border Wall
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The Trump administration has picked up two major immigration victories this week at the U.S. Supreme Court that could play a huge role in November's election.
The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from a coalition of environmental groups that claimed President Donald Trump's construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was damaging and destroying the environment.
The groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, challenged a 1996 law giving the president authority to fight illegal immigration and border crossings, and limiting some legal challenges.
The coalition claimed that the Trump administration did not conduct sufficient environmental impact studies for the construction and that endangered species like the jaguar and Mexican wolf would be adversely affected by the barrier.
They had asserted in their case that the law’s allowance for the secretary of Homeland Security to waive any laws necessary to allow the quick construction of border fencing violates the Constitution’s separation of powers.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed the case, citing a prior case from 2007 with "a nearly identical context."
"This Court finds that precedent persuasive, and it compels the conclusion that Plaintiffs' complaint fails to state plausible constitutional claims as a matter of law," the Circuit Court's ruling said.
This is the second big immigration ruling in the past week.
Late last week, the Supreme Court ruled against the American Civil Liberties Union after the liberal group brought a case to the court in an attempt to force the American justice system to give hearings to asylum seekers whose claims have been denied.
However, in a 7-2 ruling, the high court shut down that claim in a major win for the Trump administration.
The ruling allows immigration officials to quickly deport some asylum seekers without allowing them to argue their case to a judge.
Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer sided with the Trump administration on the case.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan, both liberals, were the two dissenters.
At oral argument, the government said that allowing judicial review would prompt a “flood” of requests and place additional burdens on an immigration system already under strain.
The case involves Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, who fled Sri Lanka in 2016 and was arrested in 2017 about 25 yards north of the Mexican border in San Ysidro, California. He was placed on a track for expedited removal.
That system, which dates to 1996, allows U.S. officials to quickly remove people who have just crossed the border illegally, but it has an exception for those seeking asylum.
Thuraissigiam, a farmer and a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, described being beaten by strangers in his home country. But an official said he did not establish a credible case that he was persecuted.
Thuraissigiam went to federal court, where a district judge said the law did not entitle him to review. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit disagreed.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, agreed with the court that Thuraissigiam’s claims were too vague to make a credible case for asylum. But they said there was no need for the court to make further decisions that would affect other asylum seekers.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration can't immediately terminate the Obama-era Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In a 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with Democrats and held that President Donald Trump can't continue with his plan to end DACA, which has shielded roughly 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.
The Obama-era DACA program has shielded just shy of a million children that came to the United States with their parents, who also did not have the legal right to enter the country.
After the ruling, Trump said he planned to announce a new list of Supreme Court nominees by Sept. 1.