Supreme Court to weigh mandatory detainment for criminal immigrants

Supreme Court to weigh mandatory detainment for criminal immigrants
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The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case challenging whether immigrants convicted of crimes are exempt from mandatory detention during removal proceedings if they aren’t immediately detained by immigration officials after being released from criminal custody.

The Trump administration is appealing a lower court's ruling in favor of immigrants who brought a class-action lawsuit after they were detained and denied bond hearings years after they had served their criminal sentence and returned to their communities.

The immigrants argue the gap in custody exempts them from mandatory detention under the Immigration and Nationality Act and makes them eligible to be released during their deportation trials.


Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Theresa Nguyen agreed, saying Congress intended to protect the public from recently released criminals. The longer an immigrant lives a free and productive life after serving their sentence, the less risk to a community they will be, she argued.

“Indeed, the imposition of robotic detention procedures in such cases not only smacks of injustice, but also drains scarce detention resources that should be reserved for those aliens who pose the greatest risks,” she wrote.

But the Trump administration argues that the San Francisco-based appeals court got it wrong.

“Under the Ninth Circuit’s rule, many criminal aliens will become exempt from mandatory custody for a reason—a gap in custody—that is ‘irrelevant for all other immigration purposes’ and often outside the [Department of Homeland Security's] control,” the former acting solicitor general, Jeffrey Wall, wrote in court briefs.

“Moreover, some significant portion of criminal aliens who obtain bond hearings will be released on bond then will flee or reoffend, thereby causing precisely the problems Congress enacted [the law] to prevent.”

Arguments in the case will be heard during its next term, which starts in October.