Immigration officials have illegally denied bail hearings to hundreds of immigrants, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled in May that the government must allow bail hearings for some immigrants who have been released from prison.
Judge Rodgers ruled the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) misused a 1996 federal law that authorized ICE to detain immigrants and deny them bail for up to six months after the immigrant is released from state custody following a conviction for a deportable crime. Some of the immigrants were in the U.S. legally, then arrested, in some cases years after their release from state custody.
The judge ruled ICE must detain the person in question immediately upon their release from state custody if it is allowed to deny a bail hearing.
Gonzalez Rogers ordered ICE to bring those immigrants affected immediately before an immigration judge so they may argue that they are not a threat to public safety and should be granted bail while they fight extradition.
“The court rightly acknowledged that not even the government is above the law,” Stacy Chen, one of the immigrants’ attorneys in the class-action lawsuit, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “(The government) cannot deny bond hearings to individuals who are plainly entitled to them.”
Immigrants convicted of a felony can face deportation after being released from state custody, if that crime is considered serious or violent under federal statutes.
The government estimated 200 to 300 persons could be affected. Jenny Zhao of the American Civil Liberties Union said the ruling could affect many more. She reported similar lawsuits have been filed in Massachusetts and Washington state.