The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision on Tuesday in favor of the federal government in a case regarding the government’s power to detain immigrants after they have served their sentences for committing crimes.
The Associated Press reported that the verdict was 5-4 along partisan lines.
At issue was the detention of immigrants who have committed various crimes that set them up for deportation and whether they are entitled to a bond hearing.
According to immigration law, the government is to “pick those people up when they are released from custody and then hold them while an immigration court decides whether they should be deported.”
However, the pickup is not always immediate, with some immigrants waiting years to be detained, leading them to argue that they should then be granted a hearing “where they can argue that they aren’t a danger to the community and are not likely to flee,” the AP said.
Should a judge agree that the immigrant is not a danger or likely to skip town, they could remain free rather than be taken into custody for the duration of their deportation case.
The Supreme Court did not by the argument, made in a class action lawsuit brought primarily by green card holders. Pointing to a statutory provision that Congress implemented in 1996, Justice Samuel Alito said “neither the statute’s text nor its structure” supported the immigrants’ argument, according to the AP.
One of the lead plaintiffs in the case, Mony Preap, has two convictions for marijuana possession and has been a legal permanent resident since 1981. After his release from prison in 2006, Preap remained free until he was detained in 2013.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, Preap had found favor in lower courts, which ordered the federal government to provide him and other class members a bond hearing, the AP reported. In the meantime, Preap has won his deportation case.