President Joe Biden has made it clear that he intends to institute more lenient immigration and border policies, including a marked decrease in deportations.
In a ruling this week, however, the U.S. Supreme Court presented an obstacle by determining that federal statutes permit the government to detain previously deported undocumented immigrants without bond while their cases play out in court.
Details of the case
According to the Washington Examiner, Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 decision. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas.
Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagen, and Sonia Sotomayor represented the dissenting opinion.
The underlying case involves migrants who had previously been deported before illegally entering the United States. While detained by federal authorities, they claimed to have experienced a “reasonable fear” of facing persecution or torture if returned to their nations of origin.
Justices were asked to consider whether the detainees retained their right to seek release on bond while awaiting a determination from an immigration court.
The majority opinion determined that the migrants did not have an automatic right to bond aside from a few limited exceptions that did not apply in the case before the court.
Majority sides with federal government
Alito focused on the differences between two specific statutes dealing with certain aspects of the detention and removal process for those in the country illegally.
While the migrants pointed to a provision allowing for release on bond pending a final determination, their prior deportations placed them in a far more restrictive category.
Regardless of their stated concerns about facing violence in their home countries, Alito argued that they could be sent to a different country willing to accept them rather than be released on bond in the same country from which they had already been removed.
A federal court sided with the migrants and the decision was upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Since other appeals courts ruled differently on similar cases, however, the nation’s highest court was called on to intervene. Although the ruling represents a win for the federal government, it aligns much more with former President Donald Trump’s priorities than those of the current administration.