The Supreme Court this week ended the quest of five exonerated Guantanamo detainees who are seeking release in the United States. The defeat for the Uighurs, members of a Muslim minority group in China, shouldn't be the end of the story. The problem is that other paths to settling them here are strewn with obstacles.
The Uighurs' story is a poignant one: They had traveled to Afghanistan, where they joined training camps run by a Uighur separatist group. After the United States launched a military offensive in Afghanistan, they fled to Pakistan, where they were swept up by Pakistani and other coalition forces and brought to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Nine years later, they continue to languish in prison, although they were eventually cleared of being enemy combatants and were approved for resettlement. They sued the United States in hopes of being admitted to this country, where there is a vibrant Uighur community.
A federal judge ordered the release of the Uighurs and their resettlement in the United States. But an appeals court reversed the ruling, holding that decisions about admitting foreigners belonged to Congress and the executive branch. The Uighurs appealed, but the Supreme Court has now declined to hear the case. Four justices issued a statement emphasizing that the Uighurs were given an opportunity to resettle in other countries, and held out the slender hope of a different result if a receiving country reneged.