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U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling on Detained Immigrants

On Monday, June 13th, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled twice against detained immigrants who were fighting their deportation hearings. In the first case, Johnson v. Arteaga Martinez, Mexican citizen Antonio Arteaga-Martinez entered the United States without authorization and after ordering to be removed under code 8 U.S.C. § 1231, sought “withholding of removal.” Mr. Arteaga-Martinez pursued withholding of removal to avoid persecution and torture upon going back to Mexico. Since the prolonging of removal may take months to years to adjudicate, the court was then begged the question of whether the “post removal order statute authorized his prolonged detention, and if so, whether the government was required to provide a bond hearing before an immigration after six months of detention” (Ray, 2022).

According to Gardner and Mendoza law firm, a bond hearing is “a hearing where a Judge will decide whether or not you should be released pending a trial.” In Mr. Arteaga-Martinez’s situation, assuming a bond hearing would be administered, his eligibility for release would be dependent on the “dangerousness and flight risk” of releasing the individual in exchange for the payment of a bond (Ray, 2022). In an 8-1 decision, the court held that Section 1231(a)(6), does not require the government to provide bond hearings after six months of detention. This leaves potential immigrants to be subjected to extended detention while waiting for their case to process. 

In a more positive turn of events, there is hope for Mr. Arteaga-Martinez as Justice Sonia Sotomayor recognized that there is “nothing in the law that prevents the government from offering such a hearing” (Barnes, 2022). Although this may not provide a conclusive time limit to when immigrants may be released from detention, in 2001, during the court case of Zadvydas v. Davis, it was ruled that the government may not detain immigrants indefinitely and if deportation was not likely in the “foreseeable future” and there was no good reason to continue detaining them, immigrants should be released.

The second case, Garland v. Aleman Gonzalez, had a similar background to Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez, but raised two questions; whether “class members facing prolonged detention under the post-removal statute were entitled to bond hearings” and if a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act 8 U.S.C. § 1252(f)(1), “barred the class-wide injunctive relief the district court had ordered” (Ray, 2022). In a 6 to 3 decision, the court overturned a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit, which ruled that federal courts possess the ability to impose broad “class-wide injunctive relief.” When the Biden administration appealed, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. argued that the text of the law was limited to “an individual alien” and thus “injunctive relief on behalf of an entire class of aliens is not allowed.” 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the ruling and stated that the ruling will “leave many vulnerable noncitizens unable to protect their rights.” The Los Angeles attorney for ACLU, Michael Kaufman, argues that the ruling has been based on the immigration law as opposed to the constitution. Although the recent court rulings present a setback, he stated that he is “pleased the court recognized that our clients could proceed with a constitutional challenge to their prolonged incarceration” (Savage, 2022). Despite the possibility of future court proceedings reversing the rulings that passed last Monday, many conservative justices seek to remove the current legal protections immigrants share.

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