The Trump administration received backing from the Supreme Court with their new ruling that states that any immigrant that has a criminal record can be detained and held indefinitely while they wait to be deported.
With a vote of 5-4, the high court overruled the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which made the decision in 2016 that immigrants with criminal records could only be held by federal authorities if the detention occurred soon after they were released from jail.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas. “In these cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that this mandatory-detention requirement applies only if a covered alien is arrested by immigration officials as soon as he is released from jail,” Alito wrote. “If the alien evades arrest for some short period of time — according to respondents, even 24 hours is too long — the mandatory-detention requirement is inapplicable, and the alien must have an opportunity to apply for release on bond or parole. Four other circuits have rejected this interpretation of the statute, and we agree that the 9th Circuit’s interpretation is wrong,” he continued.
The case is centered around the understanding of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. According to Reuters, “The law states the government can detain convicted immigrants ‘when the alien is released’ from criminal detention.”
The news outlet added, “Civil rights lawyers argued that the language of the law shows that it applies only immediately after immigrants are released. The Trump administration said the government should have the power to detain such immigrants anytime.”
One of the lead plaintiffs in the class action suit, Mony Preap, is legally a permanent resident who had two drug convictions, which were offenses that he could be deported for. He did his jail time in 2006, but the federal authorities detained him in 2013 after he was released from jail for non-deportable offenses
Justice Stephen Breyer stated in the dissent, which was accompanied by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, that the Constitution wasn’t written to indefinitely take freedom from people who have already served their sentence. According to the Washington Examiner, Justice Stephen Breyer said: “I would have thought that Congress meant to adhere to these values and did not intend to allow the Government to apprehend persons years after their release from prison and hold them indefinitely without a bail hearing.” He also warned that the “greater importance in the case lies in the power that the majority’s interpretation grants to the government.”
“It is a power to detain persons who committed a minor crime many years before. And it is a power to hold those persons, perhaps for many months, without any opportunity to obtain bail,” Breyer continued.
Cecilia Wang, the lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued the case for the immigrants, saying: “The Supreme Court has endorsed the most extreme interpretation of immigration detention statutes, allowing mass incarceration of people without any hearing, simply because they are defending themselves against a deportation charge.”
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, agreed with the decision, saying that the Supreme Court did their job by upholding the rules of law. He posted a comment on Twitter that read: “U.S. Supreme Court gives @RealDonaldTrump victory on immigration detention. Actually, court upholds rule of law on immigration in case dating back to Obama administration.”