Supreme Court Sides With Trump in Detention Case

Case involved noncitizens who commit deportable crimes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 19, 2019 1:05 PM CDT
A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, March 15, 2019.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday against a group of immigrants in a case about the government's power to detain them after they've committed crimes but finished their sentences, the AP reports. The issue before the justices had to do with the detention of noncitizens who have committed a broad range of crimes that make them deportable. Immigration law tells the government to pick those people up when they are released from custody and hold them while an immigration court decides whether they should be deported. But those affected by the law aren't always picked up immediately and are sometimes not detained until years later. In the case before the Supreme Court, a group of mostly green card holders argued that unless they're picked up essentially within a day of being released, they should be entitled to a hearing where they can argue that they aren't a danger to the community and are not likely to flee.

If a judge were to agree, they would not have to remain in custody while their deportation case goes forward. That's the same hearing rule that applies to other noncitizens the government is trying to deport. But the Supreme Court disagreed with the immigrants' interpretation of federal law in a 5-4 ruling that divided the court along ideological lines. Looking at a statutory provision enacted by Congress in 1996, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that "neither the statute's text nor its structure" supported the immigrants' argument. The court's conservative justices sided with the Trump administration, which argued as the Obama administration did, against hearings for those convicted of crimes and affected by the law.

(Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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