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Deporting immigrants for crimes just became easier, as a new Supreme Court ruling set a precedent for future cases.
In a 5-4 decision, the court upheld a lower court decision that a Jamaican immigrant could be deported for ciminal convictions in the state of Georgia.
Andre Martello Barton, who was charged with firearm and drug offenses, may have a harder time fighting deportation orders.
The Supreme Court ruling does not mean that he will be deported.
Rather, the ruling means that under the law, his crimes made him eligible to be deported.
The case revolved around the deportation elegibility.
Generally, green card holders can apply to have their deportation order canceled if they’ve been living in the United States continuously for a minimum of 7 years.
That rule would have applied for Barton had it not been for the criminal convictions.
More details on the SCOTUS ruling below:
Penning the majority opinion, Brett Kavanaugh wrote that "when a lawful permanent resident has amassed a criminal record of this kind,” immigration law makes them ineligible to ask to be allowed to stay in the country.
However, this is not a political statement.
The Supreme Court of the United States has a duty to interpret the law as written.
Congress authorized the removal of non-citizens who have committed certain serious crimes.
If Congress doesn't like the law, then they have the power to change it. There's a reason they're called the legislative branch!
The New York Post has more details on this landmark ruling:
Green card holders with criminal offenses will now have a harder time fighting deportation orders after the Supreme Court ruled with the Trump administration on Thursday.
The split 5-4 ruling applied to the case of Andre Martello Barton, a non-citizen Georgia father of four who was charged with firearm and drug offenses after immigrating from Jamaica in the 1980s.
His crimes made him eligible to be deported, but Barton argued he was ineligible based on a law that allows some long-term legal US non-citizen residents to avoid expulsion.
Green card holders may apply to have their deportation order canceled if they have been living in the US continuously for at least seven years.
If they commit a statutory offense, their period of continuous residency goes back to zero under the “stop-time rule.”
Even though he was not seeking admission into the country and his crimes were not enough to deport him, the Supreme Court ruled that he would not be able to fight deportation charges.
The ruling would not impact green card holders in the United States without criminal records.
There are an estimated 1.9 million non-citizens in the United States who have criminal convictions.
Based on the new ruling, these 1.9 million non-citizens would be considered deportable.
The topic of immigration has once again become a hot-button issue after President Trump announced that he would temporarily suspend immigration for 60 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reuters has more details on the case, its history, and the dissent written by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor:
The court ruled 5-4 to uphold a lower court decision that found a legal permanent resident from Jamaica named Andre Martello Barton ineligible to have his deportation canceled under a U.S. law that lets some longtime legal residents avoid expulsion. The conservative justices were in the majority, with the liberal justices dissenting.
Barton, a 42-year-old car repair shop manager and father of four, was targeted for deportation after criminal convictions in Georgia for drug and gun crimes.
The decision could affect thousands of immigrants with criminal convictions - many for minor offenses - who reside legally in the United States. There are more than 13 million legal U.S. permanent residents, also known as “green card” holders, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Glenn Fogle, an attorney for Barton, called the ruling “extremely disappointing” and expressed concern for his client, who has already been sent back to Jamaica.
“My heart goes out to Mr. Barton and his family as he is now effectively barred from ever rejoining them in the United States,” Fogle said.
The Trump administration argued against Barton’s bid to avoid deportation.
Trump’s hardline stance on both legal and illegal immigration has been a key feature of his presidency and his 2020 re-election campaign. He has justified his immigration crackdown in part by citing crimes committed by immigrants.
Permanent residents selected for deportation may apply to have their removal canceled if they have been living continuously in the United States for at least seven years, except if they have committed certain serious felonies.
At issue in the case was the meaning of a 1996 change - known as the “stop-time rule” - in U.S. immigration law. This provision disqualifies immigrants who commit certain crimes from this discretionary benefit by stopping the clock on their period of continuous residency.
The federal government had said the rule was triggered in Barton’s case because his assault charge would bar his admission into the country, even though as of 1996 he had resided in the United States too long to be declared deportable for that crime.
Barton argued that he could not be found inadmissible because he had already been lawfully admitted.
While noting that deporting a permanent resident is a “wrenching process,” conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the majority on Thursday, disagreed.
“Removal is particularly difficult when it involves someone such as Barton who has spent most of his life in the United States,” wrote Kavanaugh, appointed to the court by Trump in 2018. “Congress made a choice, however, to authorize removal of noncitizens - even lawful permanent residents - who have committed certain serious crimes.”
In a dissent, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the ruling “at odds with common sense.” Sotomayor noted that the immigration judge who heard Barton’s case said she would have preferred to grant Barton’s bid to avoid deportation, noting that he had rehabilitated and that his four children were all U.S. citizens.
Part of immigration reform means a merit based system, where people are allowed into the country based on merit.
Though Sotomayor called the ruling at odds with common sense, allowing non-citizens to remain in the country with criminal records is at odds with common sense!
This is exactly why President Trump's America first message resonates with so many voters.
It's time to put our country -- and its citizens -- first. And yes, that includes keeping them safe from those with criminal records.