(Los Angeles) A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that immigrants who have experienced prolonged detention have a right to a bond hearing to determine whether or not they should continue to be detained.
“The Ninth Circuit’s decision clearly rejects the government’s draconian practice of imprisoning immigrants for prolonged periods without meaningful review,” said Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California Ahilan Arulanantham and Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.  “The ruling will ensure that the government does not waste resources detaining people – including many lawful residents --for months and years when they present no risk to public safety.”
Rodriguez v. Robbins, a class-action lawsuit, was filed on behalf of the hundreds immigrants whom the government has imprisoned for more than six months in the Los Angeles area.  The suit sought the most basic procedural right for detained immigrants—a right to a hearing where they can argue for release on bond.
In September 2012, United States District Judge Terry Hatter issued a preliminary injunction, requiring the government to provide bond hearings to certain categories of immigrants who had been incarcerated for more than six months without a bond hearing, including long-time lawful permanent residents and asylum applicants seeking refuge in the United States.  Today’s ruling affirms the preliminary injunction order, and vindicates the rights of detained noncitizens.
“We’re excited that the Ninth Circuit has taken this important step to affirm the basic right to a hearing,” said Sean Commons, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, which has served as co-counsel on behalf of the class of immigrant detainees. “In too many instances, class members have been separated from their families and communities for years, without any evidence that they present a risk of danger.”
"Today's decision underscores that the government cannot subject immigrants to prolonged detention without first meeting its basic obligations under due process,”  said Jayashri Srikantiah, Professor of Law and Director, Immigrants’ Right Clinic, Stanford Law School.
Counsel for plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP.
For more information on the case, see http://www.aclusocal.org/rodriguez/