On Tuesday, June 1, the Supreme Court overturned a California court’s ruling that presumed asylum seekers were telling the truth unless an immigration judge had made an “explicit” conclusion that they were unreliable.

The court unanimously agreed that a previous judgment from the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California had erred in ruling that noncitizens’ testimonies must be recognized as credible or accurate in immigration matters. The high court overturned the 9th Circuit’s ruling, and it was sent to lower courts for additional review.

In a 9-0 vote, the justices decided that this rule “cannot be reconciled” with a law enacted by Congress that gives immigration judges the authority to consider conflicting testimony and decide whether an applicant is eligible for asylum.

“For many years, and over many dissents, the 9th Circuit has proceeded on the view that, “[i]n the absence of an explicit adverse credibility finding [by the agency], we must assume that [the immigrant’s] factual contentions are true’ or at least credible,” wrote Justice Neil M. Gorsuch in Garland vs. Dai. He claimed that this rule was unjustified and that in close cases, immigrants should be given the benefit of the doubt.

“Congress has carefully circumscribed judicial review” of immigration decisions, he added.

An immigration judge typically hears from an immigrant seeking asylum and evidence from the government that calls the person’s narrative or motives for seeking refuge in this country into question. The judge assesses whether the applicant is eligible for asylum, usually without establishing whether the applicant is trustworthy or deceptive.

In the cases decided on Tuesday, Cesar Alcaraz-Enriquez and Ming Dai had applied to stay in the United States but were declared unsuitable due to inconsistencies in their testimonies. Alcaraz-Enriquez was accused of lying about raping and assaulting his girlfriend. Dai was accused of omitting a trip to China when he said he was escaping the communist country.

The 9th Circuit was wrong to interfere in both cases because of a technical question, wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch. He argued that the court had no authority to impose its own rules on the administrative requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which are governed by immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

“The Ninth Circuit’s rule has no proper place in a reviewing court’s analysis,” Gorsuch wrote of the circuit’s judgment in the two men’s cases.

According to Gorsuch, Congress demands judicial deference to the factual findings of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

“When it comes to questions of fact—such as the circumstances surrounding Mr. Alcaraz-Enriquez’s prior conviction or Mr. Dai’s alleged persecution—the INA provides that a reviewing court must accept ‘administrative findings’ as ‘conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary,'” Gorsuch wrote.

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