Washington, Apr 17 (EFE).- The US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that part of the law facilitating deportations of foreigners convicted of crimes is too “vague” to be enforced, thus limiting the federal government’s ability to deport immigrants with criminal records.
The justices were split with just five of them – including all four liberal justices – voting in favor of striking down part of the law.
The four liberal justices were joined by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was named to the high court last year by President Donald Trump and who is said to interpret the Constitution in a literal way without taking into account changes that have occurred in society since it was written.
In the opinion written by Gorsuch, the justices say that the portion of the federal law making deportations easier is vague when it defines a “violent crime.”
Being convicted of a violent crime virtually ensures deportation for an immigrant, regardless of how long he/she has lived in this country.
Gorsuch wrote that “no one should be surprised that the Constitution looks unkindly on any law so vague that reasonable people cannot understand its terms and judges do not know where to begin in applying it.”
With its ruling, the court upheld the decision handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, which in 2015 had annulled that provision of the law, considering it to be too confusing.
The high court’s ruling is a blow for the Trump administration, which will now see its aim to accelerate deportations of foreigners with criminal records stymied to some degree.
The case revolves around James Dimaya, a Filipino who came to the US in 1992 at age 13 and in 2007 and 2009 was convicted of two burglaries for which he was sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2010, however, the government began his deportation procedure because, in its opinion, the crimes for which he was convicted could be considered “violent” and, thus, he could be deported as per the provision contained in the federal law.
Dimaya would have been deported, but the San Francisco federal appeals court struck down the provision as unconstitutionally vague, a decision that the Supreme Court upheld after hearing the case last Oct. 2.