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Supreme Court rules indefinite detention for some immigrants

By mid-2017, the Supreme Court is expected to decide on a case involving the indefinite detention of immigrants in Arizona and throughout the country. There are two sets of people who are in this situation. Some have been residing in the country for a long time and have been detained for what are often minor crimes such as drug possession. Others are seeking asylum. The long-term residents prevail in about 40 percent of cases while the asylum seekers are permitted to remain about 70 percent of the time.

However, the cases generally take more than a year, and in the meantime, the people are held without the ability to ask a judge for a release. The Obama administration appealed the decision of a San Francisco federal appeals court that held that immigrants should have a hearing after six months. If they were not considered a flight risk, they should have the opportunity to be released with electronic monitoring or by placing a bond, the court ruled.

While four judges leaned in favor of the immigrants, three were less sympathetic and a fourth leaned toward their view. The court also reviewed a number of provisions related to the situation. Justice Elena Kagan argued that there should be some provision for case review after a set time, but an attorney said resolving most cases within 19 months was acceptable.

Whether they are fighting deportation, applying for asylum or seeking naturalization, people might want to consult an attorney. The rapidly changing nature of immigration law and its complexity means that people might be working with outdated information or may not fully understand their rights. Furthermore, some studies have shown that legal counsel improves a person's results in immigration cases.

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