US Supreme Court rules government can indefinitely detain immigrants years after release from criminal custody
20 March 2019
In a 5-4 decision Tuesday, the US Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s interpretation of a law in a manner that enables it to indefinitely detain immigrants years after they have been released from criminal custody for certain offenses, while they await a decision on their immigration status.
The ruling emboldens the Trump administration in its fascistic war on immigrants, giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents a free hand to hunt down and detain, without bail, any migrant, documented or undocumented, who served time for a criminal offense, including charges as minor as marijuana possession or the illegal download of music. The ruling creates a class of US residents who can be disappeared into America’s network of immigration detention centers over actions that took place years in their past.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented the plaintiffs in the case, released a statement on Twitter Tuesday denouncing the decision. “For two terms in a row now,” the statement declared, “SCOTUS [the Supreme Court of the United States] has endorsed the most extreme interpretation of immigration detention statutes, allowing mass incarceration of people without any hearing, simply because they are fighting a deportation charge.”
At question in the case, Nielsen v. Preap, was a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals that a 1996 law enacted under Democratic President Bill Clinton stipulated that immigrants with a criminal conviction could be detained by immigration agents without a bond hearing only if they were arrested within 24 hours of their release from…