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Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Who Return After Being Deported Can Be Denied Bond

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The Supreme Court overruled a lower court today in a landmark immigration case. The court ruled that illegal immigrants who reentered the U.S. without authorization after already having been deported are not entitled to bond hearings.

The court split 6-3. “The finality of the order of removal does not depend in any way on the outcome of the withholding-only proceedings,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. “If an immigration judge grants an application for withholding of removal, he prohibits DHS from removing the alien to that particular country, not from the United States,” Alito wrote.

“Although the statute does not specify a time limit on how long DHS may detain an alien in the post-removal period, this Court has ‘read an implicit limitation’ into the statute ‘in light of the Constitution’s demands,’ and has held that an alien may be detained only for ‘a period reasonably necessary to bring about that alien’s removal from the United States,’” he wrote.

Alito said withholding hearings are “limited to a determination of whether the alien is eligible for withholding or deferral of removal,” and as such, “all parties are prohibited from raising or considering any other issues, including but not limited to issues of admissibility, deportability, eligibility for waivers, and eligibility for any other form of relief.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote:

“Studies have also found that, once withholding-only relief is granted, the alien is ordinarily not sent to another, less dangerous country. Rather, the alien typically remains in the United States for the foreseeable future.”

“In sum, I can find no good reason why Congress would have wanted categorically to deny bond hearings to those who, like respondents, seek to have removal withheld or deferred due to a reasonable fear of persecution or torture. And I do not agree with the majority’s reading of the statute’s language as denying them that opportunity,” Breyer added.

From The AP:

The case involves people who had been previously deported and, when detained after re-entering the United States illegally, claimed that they would be persecuted or tortured if sent back. One man is a citizen of El Salvador who said he was immediately threatened by a gang after being deported from the U.S.

An immigration officer determined that the immigrants had a “reasonable fear” for their safety if returned to their countries, setting in motion an evaluation process that can take months or years.

The issue for the court was whether the government could hold the immigrants without having an immigration judge weigh in. The immigrants and the Trump administration, which briefed and argued the case before President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, pointed to different provisions of immigration law to make their respective cases.