The Supreme Court on Tuesday endorsed government authority to detain aliens awaiting deportation at anytime, if they have criminal records.
The ruling allows for detainment even years after the aliens have completed prison terms for criminal convictions.
The court ruled 5-4 that federal authorities could pick up such aliens and place them into indefinite detention at any time. The reversal of a previous lower court ruling is considered a major victory for the Trump administration.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion.
Alito sought to make clear that the ruling was not aimed at 'extreme' examples of people picked up years after they have finished serving time, when they are leading law-abiding lives and have blended into their communities. Those immigrants can file individual challenges, he said.
But it would be unreasonable, Alito said, for homeland security agents to 'turn into pumpkins' at midnight on the day noncitizens are released, forever unable to detain them. Various deadlines suggested by the other side, he said, 'are taken out of thin air.'