In the News: The Supreme Court Decision You Need to Know About


Legal or not, if you’re an immigrant who has ever been convicted of a crime, you need to pay close attention to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on immigration enforcement.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled on Nielsen v. Preap. And it ensures any conviction, even the most minor misdemeanor you can think of, puts immigrants in danger.

The Issue

The issue at hand was whether the US government could use a criminal conviction to detain immigrants for deportation even long after their prison sentences are served.

Under existing law, immigration officials were to detain the immigrant after he or she served his or her prison time. Because the immigrant was a convicted criminal they could be held without bail, and because deportation is a civil matter, they could be held indefinitely. Going after an immigrant months, or even years, later, wasn’t the norm.

Now, the Supreme Court is essentially handing ICE the ability to hang possible detention over a convicted immigrant’s head until the day he or she dies. No amount of time is too much. 15 years? 20 years? 30? All of the above. And more.

See also: A Wall Built on Policy: How Immigration Policy Changed in 2018.

What This Looks Like

One of the plaintiffs in this case was Eduardo Vega Padilla. He arrived here as a child and has been a lawful resident of the United States for over 50 years. He’s had children here. And grandchildren. All of the grandchildren are citizens of the United States.

He hasn’t had a repeat offense of the minor drug charges he was convicted of in 1997 and 1999, Twenty years ago and twenty-three years ago, respectively. There was a probation violation. He’d served all his time by 2002.

ICE sat on their right to detain for over 15 years before showing up at his home to arrest him in 2013.

Why would they want to wait so long? Why would they go after someone who has had years to become a productive part of society, or a community? It could be that it’s just an easy way to keep arrest numbers high. More arrests means more funding. It could also be driven by the politics which have brought anti-immigration sentiments to a fever pitch across the nation.

Whatever it is, it’s bad news.

See also: The Basics of Illegal Immigration.

How You Should Respond

If you are an immigrant who has committed a crime, you need to be on your guard no matter how long ago that crime was. And you need to be prepared.

ICE can detain an immigrant indefinitely, but people with legal counsel tend to fare far better in deportation hearings, and may spend less time waiting on their hearings because they have a strong voice advocating for them.

Be sure to gather all the proof that you’re a legal immigrant if you are, and keep it in a safe place your attorney can get to. You might well need it later.

Remember, Hykel Law is here to help.


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