Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

SCOTUS Rules Law Allowing Deportation For Convictions Is Too Broad

SCOTUS Rules Law Allowing Deportation For Convictions Is Too Broad

The Supreme Court of the United States voted against part of a federal law that requires the mandatory deportation of immigrants who have been convicted of some violent crimes on Tuesday (April 17), reports CNN.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the part of the Immigration and Nationality Act was so "fuzzy" over what constitutes the kind of aggravated felony that requires an immigrant's deportation that it violated the constitutional protection of due process.

"Deportation is a particularly severe penalty", Kagan said, and it is unconstitutional to mandate deportation based on a "hopelessly" vague provision. "Does auto burglary qualify as a violent felony?". Kagan mentioned other examples including rape, evading arrest and trespassing in which courts have also been divided.

"Vague laws.can invite the exercise of arbitrary power.by leaving the people in the dark about what the law demands and allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up", Gorsuch wrote in his concurring opinion.

While Gorsuch is considered a conservative, his decision wasn't unexpected.

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The case in question was carried over from the high court's 2016 term, when the justices presumably deadlocked 4-4 following Justice Antonin Scalia's death.

Under the court's rules, the chief justice decides who writes the opinion when he is in the majority. "Therefore, we call on Congress to close criminal alien loopholes to ensure that criminal aliens who commit those crimes - for example, burglary in many states, drug trafficking in Florida, and even sexual abuse of a minor in New Jersey - are not able to avoid the consequences that should come with breaking our nation's laws".

Reacting to the verdict, Trump said that Congress "must close loopholes that block the removal of risky criminal aliens, including aggravated felons". The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Tuesday.

The decision is a loss for the Trump administration which, like Barack Obama's administration before it, had defended the provision at issue.

Immigration officials relied on a section of immigration law that lists crimes that make people eligible for deportation.

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A federal immigration judge had decided James Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who immigrated legally and had lived in Northern California since 1992, was slated for deportation because he had pleaded guilty twice to residential burglary under California law. A Justice Department board refused to cancel his expulsion because the relevant law defined burglary as a "crime of violence". The category in which Dimaya's convictions fell is a crime "that, by its very nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force...may be used in the course of committing the offense".

With the four other conservative justices in dissent, it was the vote of the Trump appointee that was decisive in striking down the provision at issue.

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"The Supreme Court delivered a resounding message today: You can't banish a person from his home and family without clear lines, announced up front", said Dimaya's lawyer in the case, Josh Rosenkranz.

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