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Supreme Court Rules That Foreign Nationals Detained for Entering U.S. Illegally Aren’t Entitled to Bond Hearings

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court dealt another blow to foreign nationals entering and reentering the U.S. illegally by unanimously ruling that federal law doesn’t entitle them to a bond hearing.

In Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for a unanimous court; Justice Stephen Breyer filed a separate opinion partially concurring and dissenting.

At issue is whether a section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act requires the federal government “to offer detained noncitizens bond hearings after six months of detention in which the government bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that a noncitizen poses a flight risk or a danger to the community.”

The court ruled unanimously, “It does not.”

The case was brought by a Mexican citizen, Antonio Arteaga-Martinez, who entered the U.S. illegally and was removed in July 2012 and reentered the U.S. again illegally in September 2012. U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a warrant for his arrest in 2018, reinstated his earlier removal order, and detained him pursuant to its authority under the INA.

He applied to have the removal withheld, citing the Convention Against Torture act claiming he would be persecuted or tortured if he returned to Mexico. An asylum officer determined he had established a reasonable fear of persecution or torture, and the Department of Homeland Security referred him for withholding-only proceedings before an immigration judge. After he was detained for four months, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in district court claiming his continued detention without a bond hearing was unlawful.

The federal government conceded that he would be entitled to a bond hearing after six months of detention citing a 2001 Supreme Court ruling, Zadvydas v. Davis. In this case, the court held that federal law provides an implied time limit of six months for illegal immigrants to be detained when they’ve been ordered by a judge to be removed from the U.S. and their removal isn’t “reasonably foreseeable.”

The district court granted his request and ordered the federal government to offer a bond hearing. At the hearing, an immigration judge ordered his release pending resolution of his application for withholding of removal. The Third Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision.

But the Third Circuit was wrong, the Supreme Court ruled.

Section 1231 of the INA “does not address or even hint” that the detainee is entitled to such relief, Sotomayor argued. Instead, it “provides only that a noncitizen ordered removed ‘may be detained beyond the removal period’ and if released, ‘shall be subject to [certain] terms of supervision.’

“On its face, the statute says nothing about bond hearings before immigration judges or burdens of proof, nor does it provide any other indication that such procedures are required.”

The section “cannot be read to incorporate the procedures imposed by the courts below as a matter of textual command,” she added.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and remanded the case “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Sotomayor noted that constitutional challenges to prolonged detention under the INA were not addressed in the ruling. “Arteaga-Martinez’s alternative theory that he is presumptively entitled to release under Zadvydas also was not addressed,” she wrote. “The Court leaves these arguments for the lower courts to consider in the first instance.”

In a 6-3 ruling also issued Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said that foreign nationals in the U.S. illegally and detained on immigration charges can’t file class action lawsuits.

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