Tuesday, April 17, 2018
"Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), any non-citizen who commits a “crime of violence” forfeits their right to remain in the country, regardless of their immigration status, how long they’ve lived here, and whether they have family here as well. Indeed, the INA makes their deportation mandatory. Such immigrants were often considered low-priority by the Bush and Obama administrations. Yes, they were technically supposed to be deported, but if they were here legally and didn’t have a serious criminal record, they’d be de-prioritized by the INS (now ICE).
Since January, 2017, however, thousands have been caught up in ICE’s dragnet, with millions more at risk. The examples have been heart-rending. Thousands of Vietnamese refugees who came here in 1975 after helping America in the Vietnam War, are now set to be deported for relatively minor criminal infractions. An HIV-positive asylee is being deported to Venezuela, where HIV medication is unavailable, because of a minor drug infraction—effectively a death sentence. A father and grandfather who has lived in the United States for 40 years is arrested because of a 1996 marijuana offense, and is now rotting in detention. These are all people who came here legally, but whose criminal acts have triggered mandatory deportation.
Today, that ends.
In a 5-4 decision, with Justice Gorsuch joining the Court’s liberals, the Supreme Court held that this part of the INA is unconstitutionally vague. Because it never defined what a “crime of violence” is, courts had to figure out how to do so themselves. And, the Court said today, the way they did so – grouping crimes into categories and determining which categories were typically violent – is so vague that it violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Nor can courts decide on a case-by-case basis, the Court noted, because that, too, deprives defendants of due process. Part of due process means having an orderly system of justice, with penalties clear in advance."
Justice Neil Gorsuch Gives Immigrants Big Win Against Trump’s Deportation Machine