Immigration officials can hold immigrants in detention indefinitely without providing them bond hearings, even if they are a legal permanent resident or asylum seekers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February.
The court wrote in its 5-3 opinion, “Immigration officials are authorized to detain certain aliens in the course of immigration proceedings while they determine whether those aliens may be lawfully present in the country.” It claimed that the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was based on “implausible constructions” of immigration laws.
The lead plaintiff of Jennings v. Rodriguez, Alejandro Rodriguez, is an immigrant with permanent legal status who was convicted of joyriding when he was a teenager and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance at 24. He was detained for three years without the right to appear before a judge to request a bond.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) eventually took the case and successfully won a class-action lawsuit that resulted in Rodriguez’s release and the cancellation of his deportation order. He remains in the United States.
The government’s appeal was started under the Obama administration, and continued after President Trump took office last year. The Trump administration also argued that detained immigrants not be recognized as a class that could bring legal action, but rather rely on individual habeas corpus petitions to challenge their detentions.
The ACLU argued that most detainees cannot afford lawyers and there is a significant caseload of habeas corpus petitions that warrant a delay.