The Supreme Court on Tuesday erected new bars to deporting legal immigrants for crimes they’ve committed here in the U.S., saying the part of law that set the level of criminal behavior deserving removal is too vague.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, in one of his first major breaks with fellow conservatives, joined the court’s left-leaning four justices in upending that part of immigration law.
He and the liberal bloc said that if Congress wants to make legal immigrants deportable for lower-level felonies they can write those offenses into the law — but they can’t use a “vague” catch-all definition to cover any serious crimes they didn’t list.
It’s not clear how widespread the effects of the ruling would be on deportations. Most of those focus on ousting illegal immigrants who never had permission to be in the U.S., while Tuesday’s case deals with legal permanent residents who committed crimes while here, and whether those are serious enough to deserve automatic deportation.
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