Thursday, February 19, 2009

Appeals Court Blocks Release of Detainees

Reversing a ruling by a lower court judge, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has determined the the 17 ethnic Chinese Muslims known as Uighurs must stay in jail at the Gitmo Naval Base, at least for now:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a ruling that 17 Chinese Muslims who have been held for years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba must be freed in the United States. The appeals court ruled that a federal judge did not have the authority to order the U.S. government to bring the members of the Uighur ethic group to the United States for their release. It said only the executive branch, and not the courts, could make such immigration decisions.
Writing for the majority, Judge Raymond Randolph explained that:
For more than a century, the Supreme Court has recognized the power to exclude aliens as “‘inherent in sovereignty, necessary for maintaining normal international relations and defending the country against foreign encroachments and dangers – a power to be exercised exclusively by the political branches of government’” and not “granted away or restrained on behalf of any one.” The Chinese Exclusion Case, 130 U.S. 581, 609 (1889). Ever since the decision in the Chinese Exclusion Case, the Court has, without exception, sustained the exclusive power of the political branches to decide which aliens may, and which aliens may not, enter the United States, and on what terms.
The case is Jamal Kiyemba v. Barack Obama, No. 08-5424. The president could use his executive authority to free the men; Attorney General Holder is scheduled to visit Gitmo next week.

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