March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court today reversed a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Nielsen v. Preap. The American Civil Liberties Union represented immigrants who challenged the federal government’s sweeping interpretation of a 1996 law, arguing it expanded mandatory detention far beyond what Congress intended, resulting in gross violations of due process for thousands of immigrants.

The court held that the mandatory detention statute, which plainly provides for detention without any hearing “when” an immigrant “is released” from a prior criminal custody, applies even when immigration agents arrest individuals years after their release.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang, who argued the case, had this reaction:

“For two terms in a row now, the Supreme Court has endorsed the most extreme interpretation of immigration detention statutes, allowing mass incarceration of people without any hearing, simply because they are defending themselves against a deportation charge. We will continue to fight the gross overuse of detention in the immigration system.”

The ACLU brought Preap along with Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Asian Law Caucus, the ACLU of Northern California, Keker, Van Nest & Peters, LLP, and Lucas Guttentag. The ACLU brought a companion case, Nielsen v. Khoury, along with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the ACLU of Washington, and the law firms of Gibbs Houston Pauw and Sunbird Law PLLC.

The ruling is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/nielsen-v-preap-supreme-court-opinion

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/nielsen-v-preap

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