Supreme Court strikes down key deportation provision, with Gorsuch help

Tuesday, 17 Apr, 2018

Supreme Court nixed a provision of federal law Tuesday that requires immigrants who've been convicted of crimes to be deported.

The court's 5-4 decision concerns a provision of federal immigration law that defines a "crime of violence".

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The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law. In delivering the court's ruling, Justice Elena Kagan cited a 2015 ruling written by Scalia that struck down a clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act as unconstitutionally vague.

Immigration judges would have allowed Dimaya to be deported, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down the provision as unconstitutionally vague. And it comes amid an ongoing focus on immigration by Trump.

Dimaya, originally from the Phillippines, was admitted to the United States in 1992 as a lawful permanent resident. The INA definition of aggravated felony includes a "crime of violence, ' which is any offense that involves the use or substantial risk of physical force against another person or property.The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) subsequently initiated deportation proceedings against Dimaya and claimed that his burglary convictions constituted crimes of violence under the Act".

Gorsuch joined the four liberal Supreme Court Justices in striking down the proposed guidelines; surprising political pundits and conservative lawmakers.

The case, Sessions v Dimaya, was initially argued in January of 2017 by a court that was short a member because the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat had not yet been filled.

Deadlocked 4-4, the justices scheduled a new round of arguments once Gorsuch joined the court. Gorsuch joined the court's more liberal justices in finding the clause too vague. Most of those focus on ousting illegal immigrants who never had permission to be in the US, while Tuesday's case deals with legal permanent residents who committed crimes while here, and whether those are serious enough to deserve automatic deportation.