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Supreme Court rules on immigrant detention after criminal custody

Some immigrants who are living in Florida may be affected by a Supreme Court ruling that would allow them to be detained by immigration years after they have been released from criminal custody. The lead plaintiff in the case was a man who came to the United States as an infant in 1981. He had been born in a refugee camp after his family fled Cambodia. In 2006, the man was convicted for marijuana possession two times.

The man served a short sentence for simple battery years later. Although this is not an offense that leads to mandatory detention, he was still sent to immigration detention. He was eventually released, but his American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, who handled the case said the law could lead to years of detention for people who are not a flight risk. The other plaintiffs were all lawful permanent residents.

The court ruled 5-4 in the government's favor. The dissenting opinion argued that the government should not have the right to deny people due process of law before depriving them of liberty. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the rulings of lower courts on the issue have been inconsistent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ruled in 2016 that detention was only permissible promptly after release from criminal custody.

This decision demonstrates the uncertainty around many immigration laws and the changing landscape of immigration in the United States. A person who is in immigration detention or whose loved ones are may want to consult an attorney in order to learn what options might be available.

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