On October 10th, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in Nielsen v. Preap. In a case that will affect many thousands of immigrants, the nation’s highest court could decide the extent to which federal immigration enforcement authorities can detain immigrants for old criminal offenses. Here, our dedicated immigration lawyer in Los Angeles offers a brief background of the case and explains the stakes for immigrants in California.
Case Analysis: Nielsen v. Preap
The lead plaintiff in this class action lawsuit is Mony Preap, a Cambodian-born refugee who has been a lawful permanent resident in the United States since 1981 (nearly four decades). In 2006, Mr. Preap was convicted on two minor misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. Seven years later, in 2013, Mr. Preap was taken into custody by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Soon after, Mr. Preap joined the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The Legal Issue
The gap in time in this case is crucial. On one side, the ACLU argues that the immigration officers do not have the legal authority to take people like Mr. Preap back into custody and detain them without a hearing so many years after the original offense. On the other side of the case, the Department of Homeland Security, now led by Kirstjen Nielsen, argues that the U.S. government has a virtually unlimited right to detain immigrants who are subject to deportable offenses at any time. The government’s position is that it does not matter how many years have passed since the underlying offense. Thus far, a federal judge in San Francisco and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have both ruled in favor of Mr. Preap and the ACLU.
The High Stakes for Thousands of Immigrants
In its decision, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether or not the federal government can detain immigrants for the full duration of their deportation proceedings — without any hearing on the issue — simply because they have a past criminal record.
If the Supreme Court allows this type of harsh government enforcement action, it will be another major setback for immigrant rights. The result would be that immigration enforcement could detain people indefinitely for old, relatively minor offenses even though they have never re-offended and have worked hard to build a strong life to support themselves, their family, and their community.
Get Immigration Law Help in Southern California
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud to be strong advocates for immigrants. Our legal team has the skills and experience required to handle the full range of immigration cases. Every immigrant deserves access to the highest quality legal representation.
To get immediate assistance with your case, please call us now at (213) 262-2000 to set up a private immigration consultation. We represent clients throughout the Los Angeles area, including in Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.