SCOTUS Frontrunner Raymond Kethledge's Record Reveals Immigration Weakness

Jul. 07, 2018

Judge Raymond Kethledge, by some reports now the frontrunner for President Donald Trump’s next Supreme Court nomination, has a record that shows weakness on immigration.
Since President George W. Bush appointed Kethledge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, he has consistently demonstrated interpretations of immigration law at odds with the conservative wing of the Supreme Court and, more broadly, the notion that American immigration laws exist for the benefit of Americans. He has also shown a willingness to inject his own sympathies with the plight of illegal aliens facing deportation into his opinions.

In 2013, for example, Kethledge sided with an illegal alien who overstayed a tourist visa and then spent the next ten years, while in the country illegally, trying to get an employment visa. Two separate employers filed paperwork that would have allowed the Indian national to remain in the United States, and both times the applications were denied when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) found the jobs to be bogus. Kethledge ruled, over a dissent by a Bill Clinton-appointed judge, that the alien himself had a right to challenge the determination that the employers did not qualify to keep foreign workers in the country, rather than just the employers themselves.

Even more troubling for those who prefer an America First interpretation of immigration law, Kethledge’s opinion in Patel v. USCIS expressly rejected the government’s contention that the sole purpose of those laws is to protect American workers and benefit American businesses that need foreign labor in qualifying circumstances where they cannot find Americans. “One can speculate that Congress meant to exclude certain aliens to protect American workers, and admit other, ‘qualified’ aliens to help American employers,” Kethledge wrote. “But there is no basis in the text of the statute—none—to conclude that Congress was completely indifferent to the interests of the ‘qualified immigrants’ themselves.”

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