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Supreme Court Rules Immigrants can be Detained Indefinitely

On February 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 3 that immigrants do not have the right to periodic bond hearings. A bond hearing, also known as a bail hearing, is where a judge determines if someone under arrest can be released from jail between the date of the hearing and the time the criminal case is decided. Immigrants can now be held by U.S. immigrant officials indefinitely without receiving bond hearings, even if they have permanent legal status or are seeking asylum. This ruling follows a Trump administration appeal of a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year that imposed a rule requiring immigrants held in custody be given a bond hearing every six months, as long as the individual was not considered a flight risk or a danger to national security.

The case was brought by Alejandro Rodriguez, a green card holder who came to the country as an infant. The Department of Homeland Security started deportation proceedings because of a conviction for drug possession and an earlier conviction for joyriding. Rodriguez, who was working as a dental assistant, was held for three years before he challenged his confinement; he has since won his immigration case. The average detention for the others who joined his lawsuit was 13 months.

Although the Obama administration also held that the law did not require hearings, the case took on heightened significance as Trump has vowed to broadly increase immigration enforcement across the United States. To learn more about immigration and crime, please click here.

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