Supreme Court rules against hearings for subsection of previously deported immigrants

In one of its latest rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision this week that many Democrats and immigrant advocacy groups will almost certainly find dissatisfactory.

According to the Associated Press, in a 6-3 decision, the high court ruled that the U.S. government can “indefinitely” detain select immigrants who claim they’ll face persecution if they’re returned to their country of origin, adding that those particular immigrants are not entitled to a bond or bail hearing while the U.S. government sorts out their cases. 

The SCOTUS ruling reverses a U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in which the court sided with immigrants who fall into that subset.

Only applies to certain immigrants

The ruling appeared to be a liberal-conservative split, as all three liberal justices dissented. Notably, the case, known as Johnson v. Guzman Chavez, only pertains to immigrants who have been previously detained and deported.

Some of the previously detained and deported immigrants argue that after being caught illegally and ordered for deportation once again, they face the possibility of torture or other types of persecution if they’re returned to their home countries.

Given how many of those claims were made, an immigration officer ultimately ruled that a “reasonable fear” exists for the subset of immigrants who fall into that category, but their claims can take months or even years to evaluate.

The high court had to decide whether or not immigration judges were allowed to intervene, in the form of hearings and bond-outs, while their specific cases were evaluated, which resulted in this week’s majority decision that the immigrants who fall into that category are not only not entitled to hearings during their evaluation, but as a result, can be detained “indefinitely.”

The Supreme Court decision comes in the wake of a Virginia-based federal appeals court originally ruling in favor of the immigrants receiving the possibility of hearings during their evaluations, though several appellate courts sided with the government on the issue at the time that it was being litigated.

Liberals dissent

Not unexpectedly, the high court’s three liberal justices dissented in the conservative-led majority ruling. Justice Breyer was especially critical of the decision.

“But why would Congress want to deny a bond hearing to individuals who reasonably fear persecution or torture, and who, as a result, face proceedings that may last for many months or years…? I can find no satisfactory answer to this question,” Breyer wrote.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan formally joined in Breyer’s dissenting opinion.

As the Associated Press reported, Tuesday’s ruling will only affect cases of a small number of immigrants who have been previously deported and have filed claims of reasonable fear of returning to their country of origin.

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