Following a class-action lawsuit coming out of California, the Supreme Court declared on Monday that it will now rule on whether or not immigrants should be detained indefinitely while awaiting deportation hearings, after serving time for criminal offenses. The lawsuit specifies that immigrants that do not prove to be a risk to society and are not a flight risk should not be held while waiting for their deportation cases to be heard.
In addition to this consideration, the Supreme Court will also decide how quickly the government must act in detaining these immigrants. A sharp divide in lower courts has prompted this discussion that led to the Supreme Court: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit says that the arrest must occur quickly otherwise a hearing to determine whether the immigrant poses any risk should be held to decide if they can be freed. Other lower courts along with the government have taken the stance that the law does not provide a timeline, and the immigrant can be arrested and held at any point. The government believes that a “gap in custody” will lead to obstruction of deportation efforts.
Two cases have been brought up in relation to this ruling: that of Mony Preap and Bassam Yusuf Khoury. Both have lived lawfully in the United States for many years, but have had served time for minor criminal offences. Both were also detained by the federal government after their time served, in Khoury’s case, two years after the end of his original sentence. In the case of Preap, he was detained after being released from a battery charge which does not fall under the category of a deportable offense.
VERDICT: It is unconscionable to detain immigrants, lengthy periods after their release, only to be held indefinitely while awaiting hearings surrounding their deportation. The arrests should take place in a timely manner, and hearings should be had surrounding their release if they prove to not pose a risk. The Supreme Court is said to hear this issue in October, but we hope that the lengthy detention practices subside in the mean time.