WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants in detention centers have no right to periodic hearings to determine their possible release on bond, a decision that could lead to their indefinite detention.
The sentence is a tough blow for defenders of immigrants, since it expands President Donald Trump’s grip on migration policy and gives him greater discretion to hold foreigners in detention centers with no time limit.
The high court justices were divided on the ruling, with three against and five in favor, the latter all conservatives.
In its decision, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court determined that immigration statutes “mandate detention of applicants for admission until certain proceedings have concluded.”
Alito added that once the court case is resolved, detention must end, but “until that point...nothing in the statutory text imposes any limit on the length of detention.”
The justices’ decision is not definitive because they asked the court of appeals in San Francisco to reconsider the case, on which it had already ruled in 2015.
At that time, the court determined that immigrants have the right to a hearing for their provisional release while the judiciary proceeded with the review of their cases
In response, the government of then-President Barack Obama considered the decision and sent the case to the Supreme Court, where it remained almost two years without the justices being able to reach a verdict.
Progressive members of the high court expressed their disagreement with Tuesday’s decision in a note that progressive Justice Stephen Breyer read in the chamber.
Breyer said that immigrants, like US citizens, have the right to a hearing that examines their confinement and can release them provisionally while the authorities decide if they must be deported or can apply for some type of asylum.
“No one can claim, nor since the time of slavery has anyone to my knowledge successfully claimed, that persons held within the United States are totally without constitutional protection,” Breyer said.
There are currently 112 detention centers in the United States where thousands of immigrants are confined for an average of 13 months, according to appellants.
The case will now be tried by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and could be returned to the Supreme Court.