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Immigration Law

Supreme Court on Bond: Johnson v. Guzman Chavez (6-3)

Johnson v. Guzman Chavez

Majority (Alito) - "Federal immigration law contains various provisions authorizing the Government to detain aliens during the removal process. This case concerns two of them: 8 U. S. C. §1226 and 8 U. S. C. §1231. We are asked to decide which of those provisions applies to aliens who were removed from the United States but later reentered without authorization, were subject to reinstated orders of removal, and then sought withholding of removal based on fear of persecution in the particular countries designated by their removal orders. If the answer is §1226, which applies “pending a decision on whether the alien is to be removed from the United States,” then the alien may receive a bond hearing before an immigration judge. If the answer is §1231, which applies after the alien is “ordered removed,” then the alien is not entitled to a bond hearing. We conclude that §1231, not §1226, governs the detention of aliens subject to reinstated orders of removal, meaning those aliens are not entitled to a bond hearing while they pursue withholding of removal."  [Guzman Chavez v. Hott, 940 F. 3d 867 (CA4 2019) reversed.]

Dissent (Breyer) - "I can find no good reason why Congress would have wanted categorically to deny bond hearings to those who, like respondents, seek to have removal withheld or deferred due to a reasonable fear of persecution or torture. And I do not agree with the majority’s reading of the statute’s language as denying them that opportunity. If, as I believe, §1231 does not apply to the withholding-only relief proceedings before us, then, as the majority concedes, see ante, at 1, §1226 applies, and grants them bond hearings. I would apply that provision and afford respondents bond hearings. With respect, I dissent."