Supreme Court rules for Trump on detaining immigrants
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the federal government can detain immigrants indefinitely for past crimes, even if they have been previously released.
In a 5-4 decision that fell along ideological lines, the high court reversed lower court rulings that found immigrants could only be subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing if they were detained promptly upon their release from custody.
The ruling provides President Donald Trump more authority in his efforts to arrest, detain and deport immigrants convicted of crimes. Trump administration officials frequently lament the inability to remove immigrants due to court rulings around the country.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a 26-page majority opinion that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit — a popular Trump target — incorrectly interpreted the federal statute that outlines procedures for mandatory detention.
Alito said “neither the statute's text nor its structure“ supported the contention that immigrants convicted of a crime must be detained immediately to be held in detention without bond.
“Especially hard to swallow” was the plaintiffs’ argument that immigrants could be placed in mandatory detention only if they were arrested on the day they left jail, Alito argued.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a concurring opinion, as did Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
In a dissent, the court’s liberal wing argued federal law did not permit mandatory detention for immigrants previously released after a conviction.
“The statute’s language, its structure, and relevant canons of interpretation make clear that the secretary cannot hold an alien without a bail hearing unless the alien is ‘take[n] into custody . . . when the alien is released’ from criminal custody,” they wrote.
One plaintiff in the case, Mony Preap, was a green card holder whose family fled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.
He served a short sentence for simple battery in 2013 and was detained without a bond hearing, allegedly based on two marijuana convictions seven years earlier.