Thursday, May 23, 2024

The fate of millions of immigrants is in the hands of a now conservative Supreme Court

When Justice Brett Kavanaugh settles in for his first week on the Supreme Court, he will inherit cases that will determine the short-term fate of more than 1 million immigrants and possibly change the course of the nation’s immigration system for decades.

From his perch at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh has presided over only a handful of cases that directly deal with immigration. The cases were varied and dealt with very specific issues, but one lawyer who appeared before Kavanaugh said President Trump’s nominee established a clear-cut approach to immigration.

Marielena Hincapié is so concerned about Kavanaugh’s views on immigrants that the organization she leads – the National Immigration Law Center, a traditionally nonpartisan group that represents immigrants – issued its first-ever opinion on a Supreme Court nomination when it came out against Kavanaugh.

“Kavanaugh on the court will be devastating for the country for decades to come, especially for women and minorities,” Hincapié said after his confirmation was secured. With Kavanaugh’s addition, the nine-judge court will have its first reliable conservative majority in decades.

Kavanaugh’s first immigration case will come before the court tomorrow, when the justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments in Nielsen v. Preap. That will decide which immigrants the federal government is legally allowed to detain without bond as they await their deportation hearings.

Attorneys and advocates on both sides of the immigration debate will listen closely to get a sense of where Kavanaugh stands, because his record is brief and mixed. Throughout his confirmation process, Kavanaugh vowed to adhere to the letter of the law.