Advertisement

Supreme Court restricts deportations of immigrant felons

From Reuters - April 17, 2018

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an immigration statute requiring the deportation of noncitizens who commit felonies is unlawfully vague in a decision that could limit the Trump administrations ability to step up the removal of immigrants with criminal records.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling in which President Donald Trumps conservative appointee Neil Gorsuch joined the courts four liberal justices, sided with convicted California burglar James Garcia Dimaya, a legal immigrant from the Philippines.

The court upheld a 2015 lower court ruling that the Immigration and Nationality Act provision requiring Dimayas deportation created uncertainty over which crimes may be considered violent, risking arbitrary enforcement in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling helps clarify the criminal acts for which legal immigrants may be expelled at a time of intense focus on immigration issues in the United States as Trump seeks to increase deportations of immigrants who have committed crimes.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote the courts ruling, delivering a setback to the Trump administration, which had defended the law at issue.

Vague laws invite arbitrary power, Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion, adding that the American colonies in the 18th century cited vague English law like the crime of treason as among the reasons for the American revolution.

Todays vague laws may not be as invidious, but they can invite the exercise of arbitrary power all the same - by leaving the people in the dark about what the law demands and allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up, Gorsuch added.

Dimaya came to the United States from the Philippines as a legal permanent resident in 1992 at age 13. He lived in the San Francisco Bay area.

Advertisement

Continue reading at Reuters »