Monday, September 8, 2014

US Federal Judge in Northern District of California Limits Mandatory Detention of Aliens in Removal Proceedings

Recently, US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted a motion for a preliminary injunction in Preap v. Holder, a class action lawsuit in which the Asian Law Caucus and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California challenged the ICE's practice in California of detaining certain immigrants without bond, often for many months, while they face deportation proceedings.

Judge Gonzalez determined that by refusing these detainees bond hearings at which they can demonstrate their fitness for release because they are neither a flight risk nor a public safety risk, the government was effectively tearing immigrants away from their families, their communities, and their livelihoods and compromising their access to representation. Many immigrants caught in the mandatory detention dragnet are longtime residents of the United States who have rehabilitated themselves, raised families and they will now have the opportunity to make an individualized case against their detention.

This court challenge seeks to clarify that the Mandatory Detention provisions of INA section 236 apply only "upon release," meaning if a Respondent is taken directly out of state custody, such as jail or prison, into federal immigration detention, they will be subject to the restriction. However, if an alien is picked up later, sometimes years after the fact, an earlier conviction that falls within the category for mandatory detention subjects that person to be detained for the duration of their immigration proceedings, without an opportunity to seek a bond is erroneous and an incorrect application of the statute.

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