Top US court sides with govt on detaining some immigrants

Published March 20, 2019, 9:54 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Agence France-Presse

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that authorities can detain some immigrants with criminal records at any time, marking a victory for the administration of President Donald Trump and its hard line on migrants.

Justices of the country’s highest court, which has a conservative majority under Trump, decided by five votes to four against a lower court ruling from California’s Ninth Circuit appeals court.

US Democrats are debating the idea of changing the number of justices on the US Supreme Court, but the issue is among the most controversial in American politics (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT / MANILA BULLETIN)
US Democrats are debating the idea of changing the number of justices on the US Supreme Court, but the issue is among the most controversial in American politics (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT / MANILA BULLETIN)

Trump’s measures to curb migration have faced numerous court challenges.

In this case, two permanent residents of the US had filed class actions over their arrest and detention without bond hearings by immigration authorities years after they had served criminal sentences and been released.

The Ninth Circuit — whose rulings Trump has previously criticized as “dangerous” — said that aliens deemed deportable under a 1996 law and who have committed certain crimes must be arrested immediately by immigration agents upon release from jail. Otherwise, the alien must have a chance for a bond hearing.

Justice Samuel Alito, in delivering the Supreme Court’s judgment, said that “we have held time and again, an official’s crucial duties are better carried out late than never.”

Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, saying that when Congress enacted the law it “did not intend to allow the government to apprehend persons years after their release from prison and hold them indefinitely without a bail hearing.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, a party to the case, reacted to the Supreme Court’s ruling by saying the government’s interpretation of the 1996 law “has resulted in gross violations of due process for thousands.”

Speaking of an “invasion” of illegal immigrants and criminals, Trump last week signed the first veto of his presidency, overriding congressional opposition to secure emergency funding to build a wall on the Mexican border, the signature policy of his administration.

Earlier in his term, a travel ban for citizens from several mostly Muslim countries was repeatedly blocked by judges before the Supreme Court approved a version of it.

 

 
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