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Supreme Court ruling on immigrants with criminal records

Immigrants in Arizona who have committed a crime in the past may be detained years later, according to a new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. This reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The 5-4 decision found that immigrants could be held for deportation without a hearing even years after a crime. The 9th Circuit's decision had been that immigrants must be detained just after serving the sentence. The dissent argued that the decision violates the constitutional right to have due process of law.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought the case on the behalf of two plaintiffs involved in two separate class action lawsuits. One dealt with a legal permanent resident who had a conviction for marijuana possession from 2006 but was not detained until after serving a sentence for a nondeportable battery offense in 2013. The other was a man who was detained two years after he served a sentence for drug-related charges. Federal authorities attempted to deport him. Both individuals were successful in challenging their deportation cases and still reside in the United States. The ACLU released a statement saying the Supreme Court's decision represented an extreme interpretation of immigration law and has done so for the past two years.

While U.S. immigration law has always been complex, it has also been changing rapidly. That's why an immigrant hoping to become a U.S. citizen may want to contact an attorney. Legal counsel might be able to explain the regulations around permanent residency, naturalization, deportation, seeking asylum and more. If necessary, the lawyer could assist in preparing documentation for immigration matters.

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