Supreme Court: Criminal Aliens Cannot Escape Detention by Dodging Federal Agents

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
By Paul Martin

19 Mar 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Criminal aliens are not shielded from a federal mandatory- detention law when federal agents do not arrest them immediately upon release from state prisons, according to a 5-4 Supreme Court decision on Wednesday, rejecting arguments from the ACLU and left-wing politicians.

The case involves a provision of federal law requiring federal detention of certain classes of aliens while the government seeks to deport them, both legal and illegal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit interpreted the law in a way that severely limited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s authority to detain those aliens while deportation proceedings are underway.

“Aliens who are arrested because they are believed to be deportable may generally apply for release on bond or parole while the question of their removal is being decided,” Justice Samuel Alito began for the Court, citing 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a), which applies to most noncitizens. “These aliens may secure their release by proving to the satisfaction of a Department of Homeland Security officer or an immigration judge that they would not endanger others and would not flee if released from custody.”

“Congress has decided, however, that this procedure is too risky in some instances. Congress therefore adopted a special rule for aliens who have committed certain dangerous crimes and those who have connections to terrorism,” the Court continued, pivoting to the federal law at issue in this case. Under “8 U. S. C. § 1226(c), these aliens must be arrested when they are released from custody on criminal charges and (with one narrow exception not involved in these cases) must be detained without a bond hearing until the question of their removal is resolved.”

Alito explained that § 1226(a) “applies to most … aliens, and it sets out the general rule regarding their arrest and detention pending a decision on removal.” This general section “generally gives the Secretary the discretion either to detain the alien or to release him on bond or parole.”

“But while 8 U. S. C. § 1226(a) generally permits an alien to seek release in this way, that provision’s sentence on release states that all this is subject to an exception that is set out in § 1226(c),” he continued. “Congress mandated that aliens who were thought to pose a heightened risk be arrested and detained without a chance to apply for release on bond or parole.”

“Respondents in the two cases before us are aliens who were detained under § 1226(c)(2)’s mandatory-detention requirement—and thus denied a bond hearing—pending a decision on their removal,” the Court explained. “Though all respondents had been convicted of criminal offenses covered in §§ 1226(c)(1)(A)–(D), none were arrested by immigration officials immediately after their release from criminal custody. Indeed, some were not arrested until several years later.”

Alito noted that although the plaintiffs in these cases were taken into custody years after their prison time was finished, the federal trial courts in California and Western Washington “certified a broad class comprising all aliens in who are or will be subjected to mandatory detention … and who were not … taken into custody by the government immediately upon their release from criminal custody.”

The Rest…HERE

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