Who is Amy Coney Barrett, and What is Her Stance on Immigration?
By: Rebecca Anderson
The Trump administration has officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Many of Trump’s immigration policies, including the rollback of DACA and the Remain in Mexico policy will be upheld by her, analysts say.
According to azcentral, Barrett, 48, a former University of Notre Dame law school professor and an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, has written decisions in three major immigration-related cases.
In those particular cases, Barrett’s decisions suggest she is a judge who interprets laws based on a rigid reading of the texts, rather than trying to decipher lawmakers’ intent.
According to Vox, Barrett helped to advance one of Trump’s key immigration policies. She sided with his administration in a case that imposed a wealth test on the millions of immigrants who seek to come to the U.S. annually. Her 40-page dissent laid out why the U.S. had the right to block migrants likely to depend on public assistance.
In August 2018, Barrett also refused to review an El Salvadoran citizen’s petition for humanitarian protections in the U.S., after it was dismissed by other judges.
Gerson Alvarenga-Flores claimed in his testimony that he was attacked by gang members in two different instances and feared returning to his home country, applying for several forms of protection, including asylum.
Barrett agreed with the immigration judge, confirming that the man was unable to provide an adequate explanation for the discrepancies in his account.
“These two encounters with gang members were crucial to Alvarenga’s claim that gang members were likely to torture him if he returned to El Salvador, yet he could not keep the facts straight with respect to either one,” she wrote.
Although, there have been times when Barrett went against the grain.
In one noted case, she thwarted Trump’s attempt to end a key tool, known as “administrative closure,” to grant relief to immigrants facing deportation. This term allows judges to put various deportation proceedings on hold indefinitely for foreigners who already applied for immigration benefits with another government agency. In June, Former U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions tried to revoke this tool, or at the very least, severely limit circumstances under which judges can close a case, but was blocked.
“[A]n immigration judge might sometimes conclude, in exercising the discretion granted by [federal regulation], that it is appropriate and necessary to dispose of a case through administrative closure,” she wrote. “Moreover, cases must be disposed of fairly, and granting a noncitizen the opportunity to pursue relief to which she is entitled may be appropriate and necessary for a fair disposition.”
With only three years of experience on the federal bench and a record of rulings on either side of the issue, it’s difficult to predict how Barret could rule on future immigration cases before the Supreme Court.