Court backs Trump on detaining migrants
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Trump administration’s power to arrest and hold legal immigrants indefinitely if they had past crimes on their records that could trigger deportation, even if they served their time years ago or were convicted of minor drug offenses.
The justices, by a 5-4 vote, agreed that Congress authorized mandatory detention of noncitizens who were subject to deportation because they had committed crimes ranging from violent felonies to drug possession. And they may be taken into custody by immigration agents long after they are released from state or local custody, the court said.
The ruling in Nielsen vs. Preap is based on an interpretation of a 1996 law, but it takes on added significance because the Trump administration has been more aggressive in arresting and jailing legal immigrants with crimes on their records.
Justice Samuel A. Alito
Jr., speaking for the court’s conservatives, said Congress believed it would be “too risky” to allow dangerous criminals and terrorists to remain free on bail while their deportations were pending. But he went on to describe the law as requiring mandatory detention for noncitizens who had committed crimes “including, for example, any drug offense by an adult punishable by more than one year of imprisonment as well as a variety of tax offenses.” He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas,
Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.
– Los Angeles Times