Johnson v. Guzman Chavez: Supreme Court limits release on bond for some noncitizens seeking withholding of removal
Noncitizens who were removed from the U.S., later reentered illegally, were subject to reinstated removal orders, and who then sought withholding of removal based on fear of persecution, are not entitled to release on bond, the Supreme Court held June 29 in Johnson v. Guzman Chavez.
At issue in the case were two provisions of federal immigration law, 8 U.S.C. Secs. 1226 and 1231.
Sec. 1226 applies to noncitizens “pending a decision on whether the alien is to be removed from the United States.” That provision allows noncitizens to receive a bond hearing before an immigration judge, pending a decision on their removal.
Sec. 1231 applies after a noncitizen is “ordered removed.” That provision does not entitle noncitizens to a bond hearing while they pursue withholding of removal.
A noncitizen who was removed from the country, later reentered illegally, and was subject to a reinstated removal order may apply for withholding of removal if they would face persecution or torture if returned to their home country.
The Supreme Court granted cert. to resolve a circuit split on whether Sec. 1226 or Sec. 1231 applies to such noncitizens while they await a decision on the withholding of removal.
The Court, in a 6-3 opinion, held as a matter of statutory interpretation that Sec. 1231 applies.
Such noncitizens are not entitled to a bond hearing while they pursue withholding of removal, the Court ruled.
Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Gorsuch, concurred, but also noted that they didn’t believe the Court had jurisdiction to even decide the issue because “Congress has restricted our jurisdiction in removal cases” under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1252.
Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, dissented.