WASHINGTON – Little over two weeks after president-elect Donald Trump declared he would deport an unprecedented number of immigrants, the Supreme Court Wednesday hears oral arguments in a case that could limit the federal government’s ability to detain immigrants.
The case, Jennings V. Rodriguez, is a class-action suit brought by people who were detained for over six months as they contested their deportation orders. Alejandro Rodriguez was a dental assistant who had lived in the U.S. legally since he was a baby before the Department of Homeland Security put him in removal proceedings and detained him for three years while he argued against deportation.
The plaintiffs argue that immigrants detained for over six months must be afforded a bond hearing – a trial determining if they can be released on bond while awaiting trial because they are unlikely to flee or commit a crime. The 9th 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs.
The Supreme Court last ruled on this issue in Demore V. Kim in 2003, when the justices upheld the government’s decision to detain immigrants without a bond trial. However, the court at the time based its ruling on statistics that the U.S. solicitor general now says were highly inaccurate. The Bush administration had said immigrants awaiting deportation hearings are detained for an average of four months. New government data now shows immigrants are detained for over a year.