Immigration detention dispute to be heard by Supreme Court

On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to make a decision on the issue of whether immigrants that the United States has detained for a period of over six months while deportation proceedings are underway are entitled to be granted a hearing during which they could put forward a case for their release.

The justices’ decision to hear a case that focuses on the rights of undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation comes in the midst of a Presidential election campaign that has seen immigration become a hot issue. In October 2015, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction issued by a lower court that required those in detention to be given a hearing after being held for more than six months, and the Obama administration is now taking the case to the Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union is behind the long running class action, which also includes a number of undocumented immigrants who were held in detention on the US border after attempting to illegally cross over into the country, and some legal permanent residents who have been found guilty of criminal offences.

The government would be forced to prove that immigrants are a threat to the community or flight risks to keep them in detention should they be granted a bond hearing. The Justice Department claims the decision made by the appeals court was “fundamentally wrong” in that it set too high a bar for the government to insist an immigrant remain in detention and expanded the number eligible for such hearings to a far too dramatic extent.