US Supreme Court sides with immigrant felon

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WASHINGTON — A US law requiring the deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence is unconstitutionally vague, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, in a decision that could hinder the Trump administration’s ability to step up the removal of immigrants with criminal records. The court, in a 5-4 ruling in which President Donald Trump’s conservative appointee Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberal justices, invalidated the provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act and sided with convicted California burglar James Garcia Dimaya, a legal immigrant from the Philippines. The ruling, written by liberal Justice Elena Kagan, was decried by the administration, which had defended the provision.Federal authorities had ordered Dimaya deported after he was convicted in two California home burglaries in 2007 and 2009. Neither burglary involved violence. Kagan said ambiguity surrounding the crimes of violence provision created confusion in lower courts. “Does car burglary qualify as a violent felony?” Kagan wrote. “Some courts say yes, another says no.” Kagan mentioned other examples including evading arrest and trespassing in which courts have also been divided. The court’s ruling will not affect a number of serious crimes, including murder, rape, counterfeiting or terrorism offenses, which are specifically listed in the law as grounds for deportation, several immigration attorneys said. That could limit its impact, though the government does not provide data on which crimes trigger the most deportations. Immigration attorneys are uncertain how many pending deportations will be affected by the ruling, but “it’s certainly not a tidal wave,” said Kathy Brady, a senior staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. — Reuters