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Supreme Court ruling opens door to detaining lawful immigrants indefinitely

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants — even ones residing in the U.S. lawfully — may be detained indefinitely for committing even minor crimes. The 5-3 ruling stipulates that immigrants "do not have the right to periodic bond hearings," NPR reports, meaning they can be denied the opportunity to post bail and leave jail.

The case, Jennings v Rodriguez, concerns immigrants with permanent legal status, as well as asylum-seekers who turn themselves in to authorities at the border, NPR explains. In its decision, the court reversed a previous ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that the appellate court had "erroneously concluded that periodic bond hearings are required" by law. "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," the majority opinion explained.

Justice Stephen Breyer read part of his dissent from the bench, a "rare move" that "indicates just how passionately he disagrees with the majority opinion," NPR claimed. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined Breyer in dissent, while Justice Elena Kagan recused herself due to work she had done as solicitor general in the Obama administration. Read the full decision here.