In the latest series of news that makes us question if we're still in "the land of the free," the Supreme Court just ruled that immigrants do not have the right to routine bond hearings. This means U.S. immigration officials can essentially hold immigrants for an indefinite amount of time since they don't have to schedule an appointment for a detainee to see a judge that may allow them to leave on bail until they have their day in court. This includes immigrants who have permanent legal status as well as those seeking asylum in the U.S.
"Immigration officials are authorized to detain certain aliens in the course of immigration proceedings while they determine whether those aliens may be lawfully present in the country," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the ruling.
The ruling comes after the ACLU brought up a class-action suit, Jennings v. Rodriguez, against detaining immigrants for long periods of time. Their lead plaintiff Alejandro Rodriguez was detained for three years after being convicted of possession of a controlled substance and joyriding. The ACLU was later able to win his case and get him released on bond.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against immigration detainees being held indefinitely and claimed they are entitled to bond hearings every six months. The appellate court upheld that ruling and added that the government must prove that the person is dangerous or a flight risk in order to detain them. But the Obama administration appealed that decision. The Trump administration pressed on with the appeal, which led to the most recent decision.
However, not everyone agreed with the ruling. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote some damning words in his opinion on the case.
"No one can claim, nor since the time of slavery has anyone to my knowledge successfully claimed, that persons held within the United States are totally without constitutional protection," read his dissent.
The Justices ultimately voted 5-3, but this may not be the final say. NPR reports the decision can still be reversed in a Ninth Circuit court and brought back in front of the Supreme Court. Hopefully, by then, there will be a change of heart.