US: Supreme Court axes law to deport criminal migrants

Top court says in 5-4 decision federal statute is 'unconstitutionally vague'

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down part of a federal statute requiring the mandatory deportations of immigrants convicted of violent crimes.

The court ruled in its 5-4 decision that the law was "unconstitutionally vague".

"Removal is a virtual certainty for an alien found to have an aggravated felony conviction, no matter how long he has previously resided here," Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority.

The law, she wrote, "produces more unpredictability and arbitrariness than the Due Process Clause tolerates."

Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom Presidential Donald Trump nominated last year, joined with the court's four liberal justices in invalidating the statute.

The case began under the Obama administration after James Dimaya, who came to the U.S. legally in 1992 from the Philippines, pleaded no contest to two counts of residential burglary in California. An immigration judge ruled Dimaya was eligible for deportation because of the convictions, prompting the legal battle that ended Tuesday, when the statute was overturned.

Federal immigration officials will still be allowed to deport individuals who commit clearly violent crimes such as rape, sexual abuse of a minor, or murder, however.

Still, Tuesday's decision is a blow to the Trump administration, which has actively pursued an immigration crackdown with a heavy emphasis on deportations.

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