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January 13, 2022

Biden administration asks Supreme Court to deny bond hearings for migrants

Top 5The Biden administration on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to deny bond hearings to detained migrants, some of whom have been held for months as they wait for their cases to be resolved.

The Justice Department appealed two cases to the Supreme Court, asking justices to overturn lower courts' rulings saying that migrants are entitled to a bond hearing if they're held longer than six months.

The conservative-majority high court appeared split on the request.

Detained migrants have contested their detentions, saying they're being kept illegally beyond the six-month deadline at which point they're entitled to a bond hearing. They said they should have the ability to be released from detention to await the resolution of their case if they pose no harm to the public.

Justice Department lawyers, though, said there's nothing in the law putting a six-month limit on detentions. Additionally, they argued in court, most detentions don't last that long.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor said there was a 2001 precedent -- in Zadvydas vs. Davis -- that said "you really can't keep someone indefinitely without a reason, basically."

"And that reason ... can't be just whim," she said during Tuesday's arguments.

The arguments come six months after the Supreme Court ruled on a similar case saying that certain migrants and refugees can be detained for an indefinite period of time while they await possible entry to the United States. The court voted 6-3 that those who have previously been deported have no right to a bond hearing for release while the government weighs their claims that they face violence if they return home.

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