Gorsuch Sides With Liberal Justices in Immigration Ruling

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday invalidated a provision of federal law that requires the mandatory deportation of immigrants who have been convicted of some "crimes of violence", holding that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The Court voted 5-4 against the White House's proposal to deport specific illegal immigrants residing in the United States who commit a "violent crime", saying the "language was too vague" to be properly enforced. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a non-citizen convicted of an aggravated felony is subject to deportation.

Dimaya, originally from the Phillippines, was admitted to the United States in 1992 as a lawful permanent resident. He lived in the San Francisco Bay area. He was convicted of residential burglary in 2007 and 2009 and the Obama administration mandated that he be deported in 2010. An immigration judge determined that Dimaya was removable from the U.S. because of his two state court convictions.

The law, although covering crimes that include actual violence, attempted violence or a threat of violence, goes on to add in crimes that involve "a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another". The Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals, an administrative body that applies immigration laws, refused to cancel his expulsion because the relevant law defined burglary as a "crime of violence".

"While Dimaya's appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Johnson v".

The case turned on a decision from 2015 that struck down a similarly worded part of another federal law that imposes longer prison sentences on repeat criminals. The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law.

After Gorsuch joined the court, the justices heard the case re-argued.

The case was initially argued in January 2017 by a court that was short a member because of Scalia's death and the refusal of Senate Republicans to act on Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.