Supreme Court Invalidates Law That Allows Immigrants To Be Deported For 'Violent Crimes'

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court invalidated a law that requires immigrants who have committed some “violent crime” to be deported. They stated that the law was “unconstitutionally vague.”

This SCOTUS case, Sessions v. Dimaya, originated during the Obama Administration, CNN notes. James Garcia Dimaya emigrated from the Philippines in 1992, when he was 13 years old, and was admitted into the United States as a lawful permanent resident. In 2007 and 2009, Dimaya pleaded no charges of residential burglary, and in 2010, an in immigration judge determined that because of these convictions, Dimaya was removable from the US.

The court said this was due to the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows non-citizens to be removed if they have been convicted of "crimes of violence."

Dimaya’s lawyers appealed the removal, stating that “crimes of violence” was unconstitutionally vague and that Dimaya hadn’t been warned that his actions could result in deportation. They cited a 2015 Scalia opinion, which called another law “unconstitutionally vague”, and argued it should apply in this case as well. As the LA Times noted, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler emphasized that deportation "is not punishment for [a] past offense.

"I think it is important for the court to understand that immigration provisions and grounds for deportation are often written in very broad and general terms and given content by the executive branch in which Congress has vested authority," Kneedler said.

The law was invalidated with a 5-4 majority.