Divided High Court Blocks Immigrants from Bond Hearings

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday curbed the ability of immigrants held in long-term detention during deportation proceedings to argue for their release, in a ruling in sync with President Trump’s get-tough approach toward immigration, Reuters reports. The justices, in a 5-3 decision, overturned a lower court’s ruling that required that immigrants held by the U.S. government who are awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings get a bond hearing after six months of detention to seek their release. The court’s five conservatives were in the majority and three liberals dissented. Another liberal, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate in the ruling. The court threw out a 2015 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had ruled that the government must provide bond hearings to gauge danger and flight risk when detention exceeds six months, and every six months after that. Former President Obama’s Justice Department appealed that ruling.

Class action litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the U.S. government’s practice of placing immigrants facing deportation proceedings in detention for months or years without a chance to argue for release. The case assumed added importance in light of the Trump administration’s decision to ramp up immigration enforcement, with growing numbers of people likely to end up in detention awaiting deportation. Dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer, reading from his opinion on the bench, said, ” I would find it alarming, to believe that Congress [passed the law in question] in order to put thousands of individuals at risk of lengthy confinement all within the United States but all without hope of bail.”

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