The Government Can Now Detain Some Immigrants Indefinitely

I was sitting at my desk in my downtown Boston office recently, the sharp winter sunlight angling towards my phone. I needed to make a call that any immigration lawyer would dread: notifying a client that she may have to fight a deportation order from a detention center — instead of from home — because of a decision by the Supreme Court.

The case in question, Jennings v. Rodriguez, was decided in February. In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito upended years of precedent by reversing a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. His interpretation no longer permits some immigrants in deportation proceedings to post bail, and maintain their freedom, while the courts decide their fate. The decision has doomed thousands of non-citizens to months or even years of incarceration, including many who will ultimately win the right to stay in the United States.

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