(CN) – The Department of Homeland Security can grant asylum status to an immigrant but cannot take it away, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday.
The ruling tackles structural changes made when the Homeland Security took over most functions of the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service in 2003.
Later that year, the department notified an Indian man that it intended to terminate his asylum status for fraud.
Gurjeet Singh Nijjar had been granted political asylum in 1996 based on the alleged persecution he suffered in India as a Sikh and a supporter of Khalistan.
Homeland Security said its information showed that Nijjar had been living in the United States since 1987 under the name Gurjit Singh.
Nijjar received an asylum termination notice from the department in 2004, and he and his family were ordered to be deported to India.
In their appeal, the Nijjars claimed the department lacked the legal authority to terminate their asylum.
The three-judge panel in San Francisco agreed, saying the law’s language presented “an insuperable problem” for the Department of Homeland Security.
“Congress did not confer the authority to terminate asylum on the Department of Homeland Security,” Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote. “Congress conferred that authority exclusively on the Department of Justice.”
While the government insisted that what gives it can also take away, Kleinfeld called the argument “euphonious but not logical.”
“Popular songs are full of euphonious lyrics that make false statements, such as the Beatles’ lyrics:
‘There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be,'” Kleinfeld wrote.
“Here, Congress conferred authority on both the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security to give asylum, but only on the Attorney General to take it away.”