Deportation Relief Denied for Moms Fleeing Violence

     (CN) — Twenty-eight Central American women who entered the United States illegally with their minor children while fleeing violence in their homelands are not entitled to judicial review of their deportation cases, the Third Circuit ruled Monday.
     The women, as well as their children, came to the United States from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in late 2015, seeking refuge from actual or potential gang violence or abuse from their former domestic partners, according to court records.
     But U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended the women near the border — many within an hour or less of their arrival — and found that none had immigration papers.
     Though the agents immediately began the expedited removal process, they referred the women to asylum officers for “credible fear” interviews, all of which failed to persuade the officials.
     The women appealed their cases to immigration judges, but in each case the judges they agreed with the officers.
     The women then filed habeas petitions in Philadelphia Federal Court, claiming the officers had violated their due process rights, as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act, the 1998 Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
     Yet U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond refused to allow review of their claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding no violation of the Constitution’s Suspension Clause.
     The women appealed, but the Third Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling Monday.
     “We are sympathetic to the plight of petitioners and other aliens who have come to this country seeking protection and repose from dangers that they sincerely believe their own governments are unable or unwilling to address,” Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote for the three-judge panel.
     But Congress has “foreclosed review” of the women’s claims, meaning the lower court does not have jurisdiction to hear under the Immigration Act, the ruling states.
     Multiple similar cases “call into serious question the proposition that even the slightest entrance into this country triggers constitutional protections that are otherwise unavailable to the alien outside its borders,” the ruling states.
     The phrase “There shall be no review of whether the alien is actually inadmissible or entitled to any relief from removal” in the Immigration Act does not authorize review of other questions related to the expedited removal order, according to the ruling.
     “Petitioners are attempting to create ambiguity where none exists,” Smith wrote. “Their reading of the second sentence in Sec. 1252(e)(5) may be creative, but it completely ignores other provisions in the statute — including the sentence immediately preceding it — that clearly evince Congress’ intent to narrowly circumscribe judicial review of issues relating to expedited removal orders.”
     Judge Thomas Hardiman joined the ruling in a concurring opinion.
     “Unlike the petitioners in Boumediene v. Bush — who sought their release in the face of indefinite detention — petitioners here seek to alter their status in the United States in the hope of avoiding release to their homelands,” Hardiman wrote (emphasis in original). “That prayer for relief, in my view, dooms the merits of their Suspension Clause argument that 8 U.S. Code Sec. 1252(e) provides an ‘inadequate or ineffective’ habeas substitute.”
     The petitioners’ lead attorney, Lee Gelernt with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, said they “intend to immediately seek rehearing.”
     The ruling is “inconsistent with more than two centuries of Supreme Court habeas precedent and multiple decisions of the Third Circuit,” Gelernt said.
     Justice Department spokesman Mark Abueg declined to comment on the ruling.
     The amici curiae’s attorneys with Gibson Dunn in San Francisco; Kairys Rudovsky Messing & Feinberg and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis in Philadelphia; WilmerHale in Boston; and the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

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