Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to appeal a court ruling allowing undocumented immigrants with criminal records to be released on bail during deportation proceedings.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with three immigrants and the American Civil Liberties Union early in August, finding that undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions are entitled to a bond hearing, providing they can demonstrate that they fully reintegrated into their community after their conviction, and that they are not a flight risk. Approximately 30,000 individuals are held in federal custody pending a deportation hearing on any given day. (RELATED: You Won’t Believe How Backlogged The Immigration Courts Are)
Grassley and Sessions denounced the decision, arguing the ruling compromises the government’s ability to deport dangerous individuals.
“The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Preap v. Johnson will endanger thousands of innocent American lives, especially those who live in sanctuary jurisdictions,” the pair said. “Congress provided the Department of Homeland Security with the authority to detain the most dangerous criminal aliens without a bond for good reason: it ensures the protection of the public, and increases the likelihood of a prompt deportation.”
The senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking the Justice Department to appeal the decision. The Department has several options; it may ask the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case “en banc,” in which an 11 judge panel would rehear the case, or it could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the matter. In the alternative, they may choose to let the Ninth Circuit’s decision stand.
The letter puts forward three arguments. The senators point out four other federal appeals court have considered this question, each siding with the government. They also say the decision infringes on separation of powers, since it restricts the power of Congress to determine when criminal aliens are subject to federal power. They further say the impact of the decision is especially acute within the Ninth Circuit, which includes more sanctuary cities than any other circuit court in the nation.
“These sanctuary jurisdictions refuse to hand over criminal aliens to DHS at all, much less immediately, meaning that the Ninth Circuit’s decision will prevent DHS from guaranteeing the detention of the most dangerous criminal aliens in those jurisdictions,” they write.
The Justice Department has not yet announced how they intend to proceed with the case.