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Supreme Court to hear immigration detention case

For people in Texas facing the threat of immigration detention or deportation, a U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear a dispute over detention could carry important repercussions for the future. The administration of President Donald Trump appealed a lower court ruling relating to people who had been convicted of criminal offenses and completed their sentences before being detained for potential deportation.

Some people who have criminal convictions are subject to mandatory detention during the deportation process; this can mean indefinite immigration detention following the completion of their criminal sentences. A federal appeals court ruled in 2016 that if immigrants are not immediately detained upon their release from prison, they cannot later be detained indefinitely prior to deportation. In this case, the court ruled that immigrants could seek hearings to argue for release on the basis that they are not a flight risk or a danger to society.

Lawyers representing immigrants subject to indefinite detention have emphasized the importance of these hearings to prevent arbitrary detention, especially for people convicted of minor drug charges. The plaintiffs in the case that the Supreme Court will hear involve two legal U.S. residents convicted of attempting to manufacture a controlled substance and marijuana possession, both detained after their original release from jail.

In the meanwhile, the administration has stepped up its public rhetoric around immigration and deportation, leading to the potential for even lengthier immigration dockets crowded with deportation cases. However, its position in this case continues a legal stance originally taken by the Barack Obama administration.

For immigrants dealing with prior criminal convictions or facing detention or deportation for other reasons, legal support may be particularly critical. U.S. immigration law can be difficult for people to navigate, and an immigration lawyer might be able to help them to mount a strong defense against deportation or to seek to regularize their status.

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