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by Bridget Boakye, at 12:39 pm, February 28, 2018, Opinion

U.S. Supreme Court ruling to hold immigrants without bond hearing, unjust

The U.S. has historically been touted as the land of immigrants. From its British ‘founding fathers’ to the over twelve million European immigrants who entered the United States through the Ellis Island portal in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it is clear that the larger part of America has direct ties to immigration.

Still, immigration remains a tumultuous issue in the country, often inciting fear, discomfort, and anger. The larger political parties – the Democratic and Republican parties – both believe that there should be large immigration reform, with Republicans calling for sweeping regulation that limits immigration and send ‘aliens’ back, while Democrats mainly call for paths to citizenship.

U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, is on the far right – pushing an anti-immigrant/anti-immigration agenda. He instituted a travel ban that targeted several predominantly Muslim countries before the end of his first year in office.

The Supreme Court, the highest federal court of the land, has largely defended immigrant rights or at least sought to challenge Trump’s contests to it. The Court refused to take on the administration’s appeal of a lower court order on DACA, protections for minors who came here illegally.

That is, until yesterday, when the Court ruled in a 5-3 decision that immigration officials can continue to indefinitely detain immigrants during proceedings to determine the legality of their status in the U.S. This ruling reversed the decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled detained immigrants must receive bond hearings every six months to determine if their continued detainment was necessary.

The Jennings v. Rodriguez ruling follows the case of plaintiff Alejandro Rodriguez who came to the U.S. as an infant and became a lawful permanent resident. The original case was born after Rodriguez had two convictions, one for drug possession and the other for joyriding. The Department of Homeland Security initiated deportation proceedings against him and detained Rodriguez for three years.

According to the Washington Examiner, Rodriguez’s attorney wanted the Supreme Court to decide whether illegal immigrants have a right to bond hearings. But Jennings v. Rodriguez affects even those with permanent legal status and asylees, stipulating that they do not have the right to bond hearings and can be held indefinitely.

NPR explains the ban’s significance:

It’s a profound loss for those immigrants appealing what are sometimes indefinite detentions by the government. Many are held for long periods of time — on average, 13 months — after being picked up for things as minor as joyriding. Some are held even longer.

The case, Jennings v. Rodriguez, has implications for legal permanent residents whom the government wants to deport because they committed crimes and for asylum seekers who are awaiting a court date after turning themselves in at the border. Immigrant advocates contend that many of these immigrants have a right to be free on bail until their case is heard.

This decision follows a five-day immigration sweep which led to the arrest of 212 undocumented immigrants, targeting 122 firms in Southern California, despite California’s controversial sanctuary law to protect immigrants which the state passed in January. Although some lawmakers cite that detention will keep ‘aliens’ from committing crime and terror, statistics show that only a small number of immigrants fit into this category. In fact, many immigrants are detained without having committed a crime.

As such, the court’s decision screams caution, if not outright danger. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) centers are often private-owned, ie. for-profit enterprises and their interests are not for all. There is little known about the lives of detainees in camps, but ICE arrests and detention camps have increased since Trump took office. Business Insider notes that last year, two immigrants died in ICE custody.

Decisions like Jennings v. Rodriguez also embolden law enforcement who at times terrorize families through abrupt and random searches and pickups. Time in detentions, especially indefinite detentions, tear families apart, causing both significant financial and emotional strain. When President Trump’s grandfather was faced with deportation from Germany after initial emigration to the U.S., he wrote, “We were paralyzed with fright, our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick. Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family.What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur.” Shouldn’t this elicit all of our sympathies? Indefinite detention is an injustice.

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