- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Illegal immigrants can temporarily avoid deportation while appealing such action through the judicial system, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Jean Marc Nken of Cameroon overstayed his visa in 2001 and applied for asylum but his requests were denied.

In a 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court ruled that Mr. Nken’s request to delay deportation was wrongly held to a “demanding standard” of proof. The justices sent the case back to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Justices Samuel A. Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, and said the court’s decision nullifies “an important statutory provision that Congress enacted when it reformed the immigration laws in 1996,” Judge Alito wrote.

Mr. Nken sought asylum in 2003 saying he had been arrested and beaten in Cameroon for pro-democracy activities but his petition was denied. He has since married an American citizen and has an American-born child.

Meanwhile, the court heard arguments in a case that claims white firefighters in Connecticut were discriminated against when tests for promotions were scuttled because no blacks qualified for open posts.

The justices appeared split on whether the city of New Haven was right to set the tests aside for fear that the black firefighters would sue for violating Title VII of the 1963 Civil Rights Act if the white firemen were promoted.

The lawsuit, Ricci v. Destefano, was filed against the city in 2005 by 19 white firefighters and one Hispanic firefighter.

The justices must decide whether city governments can ignore job tests that would disproportionately promote more white applicants than minority applicants, based on fears they would be accused of racial discrimination.

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