The Supreme Court ruled that federal authorities can imprison immigrants it wants to deport without first giving them a chance to show that they present neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community. The 5-to-4 ruling upheld provisions of a 1996 immigration law as applied to aliens who are lawful permanent residents of the United States and who have been convicted of drug crimes or other “aggravated” offenses.
The New York Times reports that the decision is not directly related to issues involving the treatment of suspects under the USA Patriot Act enacted after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. But it illustrated the court majority’s deference to the judgments Congress made about the desirability of detaining immigrants before deporting them.
Tens of thousands of so-called “criminal aliens” have been imprisoned before deportation under the statute. Four federal appeals courts had declared the mandatory-detention rule unconstitutional as applied to lawful permanent residents.