The Supreme Court handed President Donald Trump another win on an immigration issue on Tuesday. The Court ruled 5-4 that the Ninth Circuit was wrong in limiting Trump’s mandatory detention policy for immigrants with criminal records. Splitting along with ideological fault line, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the other four conservative justices to reverse the Ninth Circuit. Four other circuits had ruled with the Trump Administration. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion.
Mony Preap, the lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, is a lawful permanent resident who had two drug convictions that qualified him for mandatory detention.
Under a provision enacted in 1996 (110 Stat. 3009–585, 8 U. S. C. §1226(c)), aliens who have serious criminal records or terrorism links must be arrested “when [they are] released” from custody on criminal charges and (with one narrow exception) must be detained without a bond hearing
until the question of their removal is resolved. The Ninth Circuit ruled effectively add a limitation on to that language in ruling that detention is only allowed if a covered alien is arrested by immigration officials as soon as he is released from jail. Thus, if the alien evades arrest for as little as 24 hours, the mandatory-detention requirement is inapplicable. He is also able to file for release on bond or parole.
Alito wrote that the Ninth Circuit not only ignored the plain meaning of the law but set up a test guaranteed to fail in many cases:
“Especially hard to swallow is respondents’ insistence that for an alien to be subject to mandatory detention under §1226(c), the alien must be arrested on the day he walks out of jail (though respondents allow that it need not be at the jailhouse door—the “parking lot” or “bus stop” would do). Tr. of Oral Arg. 44. “Assessing the situation in realistic and practical terms, it is inevitable that” respondents’ unsparing deadline will often be missed for reasons beyond the Federal Government’s control. Montalvo-Murillo, 495 U. S., at 720. Cf. Regions Hospital v. Shalala, 522 U. S. 448, 459, n. 3 (1998) (“The Secretary’s failure to meet the deadline, a not uncommon occurrence when heavy loads are thrust on administrators, does not mean that [she] lacked power to act beyond it”). “
Writing for the dissenting justices, Justice Stephen Breyer accused the majority of ignoring the core constitutional values underlying our system as a whole:
“I would have thought that Congress meant to adhere to these values and did not intend to allow the Government to apprehend persons years after their release from prison and hold them indefinitely without a bail hearing. In my view, the Court should interpret the words of this statute to reflect Congress’ likely intent, an intent that is consistent with our basic values. To speak more technically, I believe that aliens are subject to paragraph (2)’s bar on release only if they are detained “when . . . released” from criminal custody. To speak less technically, I fear that the Court’s contrary interpretation will work serious harm to the principles for which American law has long stood.”
Here is the opinion: Nielsen v. Preap