Monday, February 22, 2021
Supreme Court News: Court to Review Public Charge Case, Hear Asylum Credibility Oral Arguments Tomorrow
Amy Howe on SCOTUSBlog reports that the Supreme Court today granted review in another immigration case:
"The justices also granted the federal government’s request to weigh in on the `public charge' rule, which governs the admission of immigrants into the United States. Federal immigration law prohibits noncitizens from receiving a green card if the government believes that they are likely to become reliant on government assistance – that is, a `public charge.' In 2019, the Trump administration defined `public charge' more broadly than in the past, to refer to noncitizens who receive various government benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance, for more than 12 months over a three-year period. After two different federal courts of appeals ruled for the challengers, the federal government came to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to take up the case. . . . The Biden administration ordered a review of the public charge rule in early February."
At the Biden administration's request, the Court took the border wall funding and the Remain in Mexico cases off the oral argument calendar. It is hard to say but the same could happen in the public charge case if the Biden administration so moves again.
"In asylum cases before the immigration and federal courts, responsibility for making credibility determinations rests with the immigration judge. Immigration laws recognize that in asylum proceedings — as in other contexts — the trier of fact who directly hears a person’s testimony can best assess their credibility. In some cases, however, IJs decline to make explicit credibility findings when denying asylum. [I]n Wilkinson v. Dai and Wilkinson v. Alcaraz-Enriquez, the Supreme Court will consider the permissibility of the . . . 9th Circuit’s approach to these circumstances: When immigration courts fail to make an explicit credibility determination, the 9th Circuit treats the asylum seeker’s testimony as credible in its own review.
UPDATE (2/23, 1:30 PST): Here is the transcript to the oral arguments in the asylum credibility cases.
UPDATE (2/25): Eunice Lee for SCOTUSBlog recaps the argument for SCOTUSBlog. She summarizes as follows:
"The majority of the back-and-forth between the justices and advocates focused on granular factual and definitional issues. The justices seemed oft-unpersuaded by the distinctions between truth, persuasiveness and credibility drawn by the parties. Various hypotheticals and deep-dives into the evidence spurred somewhat unusual alliances, including a possible Thomas-Alito-Kagan-Barrett front . . . . Yet shared skepticism toward the parties’ key positions left the justices’ ultimate views on the 9th Circuit rule and the contours of federal review unclear."