The nation’s highest court is set to weigh in on a pair of cases related to the federal government’s authority to detain undocumented immigrants.
According to reports, justices heard arguments on Tuesday regarding prolonged periods of detainment prior to deportation.
“Detention during removal proceedings is constitutionally permissible”
As Fox News explained, the Biden administration appears to be at odds with the court’s liberal justices, who seemed to believe that the government has an obligation to provide bond hearings in such immigration cases.
Both cases presented this week dealt with migrants who were previously deported and then detained after attempting to re-enter the United States.
While the migrants had no legal right to be in the country, opponents of the current statutes argue that the government is violating the rights of immigrants by holding them in detention for more than six months without a clear date of deportation.
For its part, the White House argued through attorney Curtis Gannon that “detention during removal proceedings is constitutionally permissible” and that Congress can “make rules for non-citizens that it can’t for citizens.”
The court’s progressive wing, on the other hand, appeared to side with the undocumented immigrants.
“That’s all that’s at issue”
Justices Stephen Breyer argued that a Mexican citizen deported multiple times in the past should receive a bail hearing until the government finds another country willing to accept him.
“Given the history of this nation and Britain, where you’re going to detain a person, not even a criminal, you know, for months and months and months, why aren’t they at least entitled to a bail hearing?” the liberal justice asked. “That’s all that’s at issue.”
The migrant at the center of the Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez case was released into the U.S. but received a warning that he could be detained at any time. He is now arguing that the government had no right to detain him given the “months, if not years” he is expected to wait before being deported.
In the case of Garland v. Gonzalez, two migrants who had been deported and then placed into detention upon re-entering the United States drew some apparent sympathy even from the conservative wing. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, for example, asked: “What if proceedings continue to drag on and on and on, or if there is no country to take him?”
The Biden administration has also attracted the ire of progressives outside of the government. The American Civil Liberties Union described the president’s stance on this issue as a “disappointment.”