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Justices reverse lower court rulings that ordered bond hearings for noncitizens in lengthy immigration detention

In a pair of cases on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled against non-U.S. citizens who challenged their prolonged detention while they sought relief from deportation orders. 

The first case, Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez, involved Antonio Arteaga-Martinez, a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. without authorization and was ordered removed. Pursuant to the post-removal order statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1231, the government detained him. Fearing persecution or torture in Mexico, Arteaga-Martinez then sought “withholding of removal,” which bars the government from removing a noncitizen to such a country. Claims for withholding of removal can take many months or even years to adjudicate.

The question before the court was whether the post-removal order statute authorized his prolonged detention, and if so, whether the government was required to provide a bond hearing before an immigration judge after six months of detention. In such a hearing, an immigration judge would consider the traditional bail hearing criteria of dangerousness and flight risk to determine whether a noncitizen should be released under federal supervision, in exchange for payment of a bond, pending resolution of the underlying immigration proceedings.

In an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court held that the text of the relevant statutory provision, Section 1231(a)(6), does not obligate the government to provide bond hearings after six months of detention. Seven other justices joined Sotomayor’s opinion in full. Justice Stephen Breyer concurred in part and dissented in part.

The second case, Garland v. Aleman Gonzalez, consolidated two class actions and involved non-citizens similarly situated to Arteaga-Martinez. It raised the question of whether class members facing prolonged detention under the post-removal order statute were entitled to bond hearings. It raised the further question of whether another provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1252(f)(1), barred the class-wide injunctive relief the district court had ordered.

In an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the court held that the statute does bar class-wide injunctive relief, leaving open the possibility of injunctive relief for multiple named plaintiffs.

Section 1252(f)(1), Alito wrote, “generally prohibits lower courts from entering injunctions that order federal officials to take or to refrain from taking actions to enforce, implement, or otherwise carry out the specified statutory provisions.”

Sotomayor (joined in full by Justice Elena Kagan and in part by Breyer) filed an opinion partially concurring in the judgment and partially dissenting.

Check back soon for in-depth analysis of the opinions.

Recommended Citation: Shalini Bhargava Ray, Justices reverse lower court rulings that ordered bond hearings for noncitizens in lengthy immigration detention, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 13, 2022, 12:21 PM),