Supreme Court Limits Sanctuary Laws’ Effect

Press Releases

March 19, 2019

Agrees with IRLI that sanctuary policies do not give boon to criminal aliens

WASHINGTON – Today the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Nielsen v. Preap, in which criminal aliens claimed they were due bond hearings disallowed by Congress because immigration officials did not arrest them immediately after their release from state jails. The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case in support of the government.

Following IRLI’s reasoning, the Supreme Court held that the statute at issue clearly requires mandatory detention of specified criminal aliens, without bond, pending their removal – even if immigration officers did not arrest those aliens, as the statute also requires, “when released” from state custody. IRLI had also argued that reading the statute to exempt later-arrested criminal aliens from mandatory detention would give extra force to sanctuary laws, such as California’s, that leave federal officials in the dark about when criminal aliens will be released, allowing them to disappear into communities and evade arrest. The Court agreed with IRLI that Congress was most unlikely to have intended any such result.

“Sanctuary laws are the very reason many criminal aliens are not taken into detention right after they leave state custody,” explained Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “It would be absurd if that delay gave them the further boon of being exempt from mandatory detention once they were caught. There is no way Congress intended to let jurisdictions leverage their unconstitutional sanctuary policies into yet further interference with immigration law enforcement.”

In order to win further victories such as this, IRLI depends on the support of citizens committed to the ideals of national sovereignty, safe communities and America First immigration laws.

The case is Nielsen v. Preap, No. 16-1363 (Supreme Court).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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