SAN FRANCISCO – Immigrants have won a major battle in California in their right to be detained without bond in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Northern California.
The ACLU of Northern California, along with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Keker and & Van Nest, filed a class-action suit that was heard by the 9th Circuit Court in the lawsuit Preap v. Johnson. In the case, the interpretation of the provision for detaining immigrants that have a conviction on their record was re-examined and ruled that a bond hearing is required for these individuals.
“You can have a green card or be a legal permanent resident that can be revoked for certain charges,” Angelica Salceda, staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, told the Northern California Record. “You can have someone that’s been here since the age of 3 and due to our criminal justice system, might be charged with something that ends up triggering their green card and legal permanent residency being revoked. They end up finding themselves in removal proceedings, which is incredibly unfortunate and ends up dividing our community and families.”
Under the new provision, immigrants that are picked up for mandatory detention will have the right to a bond hearing rather than being detained in a detention center so they can make an individualized case against their detention. This often happens to immigrants that were convicted of a petty crime years prior and since have changed their lives around.
“That’s incredibly critical because they can be with their families,” said Salceda. “It makes it easier to access resources to find an immigration attorney that will help them fight their case, where before they weren’t even eligible for bond. That meant they really had to fight their case while being detained and all those limitations that come with being in a detention center.”
The 9th Circuit Court affirmed the ruling of the lower courts with Judge Jacqueline Nguyen saying “robotic detention procedures… smacks of injustice and should be reserved for those aliens who pose the greatest risk.”
“We ended up having a really good 9th Circuit Court decision on the case,” said Salceda. “It was a great decision because before you used to have all these individuals that were detained with the opportunity to be able to bail out because of the interpretation of the provision.”
With California immigrants now being able to make an individualized case against their detention, the ACLU of Northern California says it is time to do outreach and inform immigrants about the 9th Circuit Court Decision in case they ever find themselves in a detention situation.
“For us, the next steps are really sharing what the 9th Circuit decision says about this, that the government can’t detain without a bond hearing certain individuals that they’ve taken under immigration custody,” said Salceda. “We just want to get that information out. Part of that is ensuring that the ruling is being implemented so individuals that can go up for the bond hearing are actually going up for a bond hearing.”