Gorsuch Rejects Deportation Mandate for Legal Immigrant Convict

Police officers stand in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC

President Trump's Supreme Court pick has largely sided with the conservative members of the bench since his appointment, but sided with the liberal wing on Tuesday.

The court upheld a 2015 lower court ruling that the Immigration and Nationality Act provision requiring Dimaya's deportation created uncertainty over which crimes may be considered violent, risking arbitrary enforcement in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

James Garcia Dimaya, a native of the Philippines, was admitted to the United States in 1992 when he was 13 as a lawful permanent resident.

In 2010, the government sought to deport Dimaya. An immigration judge determined that Dimaya was removable from the U.S. because of his two state court convictions.

The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law.

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In court, arguing for the Trump administration, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said that when it comes to deportation, "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". Conviction for a crime of violence makes deportation "a virtual certainty" for an immigrant, no matter how long he has lived in the United States, Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion for the court.

In this case, President Barack Obama's administration took the same position in the Supreme Court in defense of the challenged provision.

The law, although covering crimes that include actual violence, attempted violence or a threat of violence, goes on to add in crimes that involve "a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another".

A federal appeals court in San Francisco previously struck down the provision as too vague, and on Monday the Supreme Court agreed. The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Tuesday.

The case, Sessions v Dimaya, was initially argued in January of 2017 by a court that was short a member because the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat had not yet been filled.

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