SCOTUS Rules U.S. Government has Right to Indefinitely Detain Some Undocumented Migrants

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the U.S. government has the right to indefinitely detain some immigrants, the Associated Press reported.

Over the dissent of three liberal justices, the court held 6-3 that immigrants are not entitled to a hearing about whether they should be released while the government evaluates their claims.

The plan is to only detain those who would face persecution or torture if they were deported back to their native countries and only effects those who re-enter after previously being detained.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants
CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 17: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence after the women crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso on March 17, 2021 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. U.S. immigration officials are dealing with an immigrant surge along the southwest border with Mexico. Getty Images/John Moore

Over the dissent of three liberal justices, the court held 6-3 that the immigrants are not entitled to a hearing about whether they should be released while the government evaluates their claims.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court's majority opinion that "those aliens are not entitled to a bond hearing."

The case stems from an immigration officer's determination that the immigrants had a "reasonable fear" for their safety if returned to their countries, setting in motion an evaluation process that can take months or years.

An immigration officer determined that the immigrants had a "reasonable fear" for their safety if returned to their countries, setting in motion an evaluation process that can take months or years.

The issue for the court was whether the government could hold the immigrants without having an immigration judge weigh in.

Alito, in his opinion for the court, wrote that the administration's argument that the relevant provision does not provide for a bond hearing was more persuasive.

In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer saw it differently. "But why would Congress want to deny a bond hearing to individuals who reasonably fear persecution or torture, and who, as a result, face proceedings that may last for many months or years...? I can find no satisfactory answer to this question," Breyer wrote.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, had ruled in the immigrants' favor, but other appellate courts had sided with the government. Tuesday's decision sets a nationwide rule, but one that affects what lawyers for the immigrants called a relatively small subset of noncitizens.

Supreme Court Building
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press