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United States Supreme Court Backs Mandatory Detention for Certain Aliens

On March 19, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Nielsen v. Preap, 586 U.S. _____ (2019). The court rejected challenges to mandatory detention of certain non-citizens, even those who have lived uneventfully for several years after criminal conviction(s). Justice Alito wrote the opinion for the majority.

Legal Requirements to Detain

8 U.S.C. § 1226(c)(1), requires detention through immigration court proceedings “when the alien is released” from custody based on a conviction for a large swath of crimes. Even Green Card holders may be detained under § 1226(c)(1). Mony Preap, who was born in a refugee camp to Cambodians fleeing the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime received his green card in 1981. Immigration officials detained Preap years after his convictions for possession of marijuana, despite a former designation of LPR status.

Legislators enacted § 1226(c)(1) in 1996, to curb what they perceived as overly lenient results in certain bond hearings. The Court’s decision makes an “aggravated felony” analysis extremely important for aliens with a criminal history who may be subject to removal proceedings. In its last term, the Supreme Court held that one prong of the definition of “crimes of violence”—an aggravated felony—was unconstitutionally vague. Because of the Supreme Court’s decision, the government will have more power to detain aliens without bond.

Let an Attorney Help

The attorneys at Godoy Law Office can work with you to evaluate and understand your criminal history, as well as the consequences it may have in future immigration proceedings. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 312-635-4029. Our knowledgeable team will guide you through a process of gaining clarity about the legal aspects of your situation.

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