The U.S. Supreme Court voted along ideological lines on March 19 when it ruled that immigrants in California and around the country who have spent time behind bars can be detained without a bond hearing, even if they are picked up years after being released. In a case brought on behalf of a group of lawful permanent residents, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that an ICE detention without a bond hearing violates constitutional protections unless it takes place immediately after an immigrant is released from custody.
Justice Samuel Alito claimed that the law as written did not support the plaintiff’s claim that they should be granted bond hearings. Alito drafted the court opinion, which held that the Executive Branch can detain a noncitizen for days, months or even years after their incarceration ends. Some of the justices questioned the wisdom of allowing individuals deemed dangerous by the government back into society.
The justices also seemed to be at odds over the issue at hand. Justice Brett Kavanagh said that the ruling was focused on the language of the immigration law in question. However, Justice Stephen Breyer said the case was about more than the meaning of words and the real issue was denying individuals due process under the law. Breyer also took the rare step of reading his dissent from the bench.
Immigration has become even more of a partisan issue in recent years. Every proposed bill or court challenge receives in-depth media coverage, which has greatly increased anxiety among noncitizens. Attorneys with experience in this area could clear up the confusion caused by conflicting media reports and explain the various paths still available to those who wish to work or live legally in the United States.