A narrowly divided Supreme Court on Tuesday backed the Trump administration’s ability to detain — without a bond hearing — legal immigrants with past criminal records at any time and hold them indefinitely while they await deportation, even if they served time for their offense years ago.
According to The Hill:
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit’s finding that the mandatory detention requirement for certain immigrants with criminal records applies only if an immigrant is detained by officials as soon as he or she is released from jail.
In delivering the decision, which split the justices along their ideological lines, Justice Samuel Alito said the 9th Circuit’s interpretation conflicts with the plain text and structure of the law Congress created for immigrants who have committed certain dangerous crimes.
“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,” he said.
“Four other circuits have rejected this interpretation of the statute, and we agree that the 9th Circuit’s interpretation is wrong.”
In a dissenting opinion, which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined, Justice Stephen Breyer said he disagreed with the majority’s interpretation of the statute in question which says simply that the detention can occur “when the alien is released” from custody.
“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 said.
“In my view, the Court should interpret the words of this statute to reflect Congress’ likely intent, an intent that is consistent with our basic values.”