Now that Donald Trump has won the election, the Supreme Court dispute over the government’s power to jail immigrants facing deportation indefinitely has become even more significant. The issue in this is case is whether immigrants who are fighting deportation have the right to a bond hearing and potential release if they’re held more than six months while waiting for their case to resolve. These immigrants are either illegal or residents who have been legal for quite some time.
The case involves Alejandro Rodriguez who was only a year old when he was brought to the United States from Mexico. At age 9, he became a legal resident. In later years, he ran into trouble for joyriding and drug possession. Shortly after, he was in immigration detention and facing deportation. Rodriguez faced detention for over 3 years without a bond hearing, which caused him to lose his job and get separated from his children. In 2007, his lawsuit became a class-action case and he was released and granted relief from deportation, allowing him to stay in the United States.
Libertarians believe that holding these types of immigrants is a clear violation of the 5th Amendment that states that “no person should be deprived of liberty without due process of law.” The court has stated that “person” includes both citizens and immigrants.
In addition, libertarians argue that some of these immigrants have lived and worked in the United States legally and are being held for long period of time because of simple drug possession and other minor offenses. Government attorneys believe that the federal law orders that noncitizens who are convicted of a crime “shall be detained.”
Newly elected Donald Trump has complicated this issue because he promised to “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records – gang members, drug dealers” and ensure they are deported. He estimates that the first wave of deported immigrants will involve 2 to 3 million individuals.
Trump views these people as “bad hombres,” when some of them may have simply violated a traffic law or caused a non-violent offense. These minor offenses may qualify them for deportation in Donald Trump’s eyes.
The case of Jennings vs. Rodriguez is expected to rule early next year.