The noncitizens entered the United States unlawfully and have reportedly been deemed by federal authorities to have a well-founded fear of persecution in their native countries.
The decision to hear the two cases came after the Supreme Court ruled 6–3 on June 29 that previously deported illegal aliens again facing deportation who claim a fear of persecution if they are removed to their country of origin may be indefinitely detained by the government.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s opinion in the case, Johnson v. Guzman Sanchez. Not allowing people who have already been deported to seek release on bond makes sense, Alito wrote at the time.
“Aliens who reentered the country illegally after removal have demonstrated a willingness to violate the terms of a removal order, and they therefore may be less likely to comply with the reinstated order.”
The petitions for certiorari, or review, were granted Aug. 23 in Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez, court file 19-896, and Garland v. Gonzalez, court file 20-322. Tae D. Johnson is acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Merrick Garland is the U.S. attorney general.
The appeals are from decisions rendered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
According to court documents, Esteban Aleman Gonzalez is a Mexican citizen. He was previously ordered deported and removed from the United States and later reentered the country unlawfully. He was found to have a reasonable fear of persecution in his home country but was detained. He asked immigration judges to review his detention but they refused.
Antonio Arteaga-Martinez also is a Mexican citizen. He “admits that he has entered the United States without inspection on four occasions,” the government’s petition states.
In both cases, the Supreme Court will consider whether after six months of detention an alien is entitled under federal law to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
In the Gonzalez case, the court will also consider whether federal law gives courts jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief to members of a class in class-action litigation.
Gonzalez is part of a class-action lawsuit filed in March 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.
Because an asylum officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has determined Gonzalez has a reasonable fear of persecution or torture if deported, the U.S. government doesn’t have the authority to deport him, the ACLU said in a statement at the outset of the lawsuit.
The ACLU said lawyers estimate the class size numbers in the hundreds.
“The class is comprised of people detained throughout the Ninth Circuit who have been or will be detained for six months pursuant to a particular immigration statute and denied a prolonged detention hearing before an immigration judge.”
Christopher Hajec, director of Litigation for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), didn’t seem surprised that the high court decided to hear the two cases.
“These are detentions that will result in removal, and it’s entirely proper under the [immigration] statute to detain them without bond hearings,” Hajec told The Epoch Times.
“There’s no constitutional problem because due process under the Constitution, when it comes to aliens in this situation, is what Congress affords.”
Acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.