Singh v. Nelson
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
623 F. Supp. 545 (1985)
Balbeer Singh (plaintiff) and 31 other asylum applicants were taken into detention upon arriving in the United States at an airport in New York. The applicants had fled Afghanistan and went to America after first entering other countries such as India and Pakistan. The applicants arrived with either no travel documentation or fraudulent documentation. Therefore, inspectors determined that each applicant was not clearly admissible and was excludable. The applicants were held in detention during the pendency of exclusion hearings, which took over a year for some applicants. Three applicants were deported at the conclusion of their exclusion proceedings, leaving 28 applicants. Nineteen applicants were deemed to have a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to Afghanistan and were granted withholding of removal. However, all applications for asylum were denied. Applicants had the right to appeal denials of asylum; however, the appeals process sometimes took years. As arriving noncitizens who were excludable, the applicants could be held in detention throughout the pendency of the appeals process as well. The possibility of continued incarceration deterred some Afghans, who waived their appellate rights just to gain eligibility for parole. The applicants who remained in detention in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which was led by Commissioner Alan C. Nelson (defendant), filed a writ of habeas corpus. The applicants sought to be paroled during their proceedings related to exclusion or deportation. Generally, undocumented, excludable noncitizens were not eligible for parole. The applicants argued that the policies requiring the detention of excludable noncitizens frustrated the Refugee Act of 1980, which provided the right of noncitizens to apply for asylum whether they were already present in the United States or arriving at a border or point of entry. The applicants also argued that the detention policy violated Article 31 of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, which provided that refugees were not to be penalized for having entered a country illegally.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Leisure, J.)
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