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HARRISBURG, PA – Immigration and Customs and Enforcement released two immigrants who had been subjected to prolonged immigration detention while pursuing legal challenges to deportation after a court ruled that their continued detention without bond hearings was unlawful. Rather than proceed with bond hearings for the detainees, the government released Elliot Grenade, a lawful permanent resident from Trinidad and Tobago, and Alexander Alli, a lawful permanent resident from Ghana, without requiring them to post any bail – Alli under minimal reporting requirements and Grenade under electronic monitoring. The two men are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Pepper Hamilton LLP.
Grenade was released Thursday and Alli in late January. They had been detained for over two and a half years and a year and a half, respectively.
"While we're relieved that Mr. Alli and Mr. Grenade are finally out of detention, this case underscores the injustice and irrationality of the broad mandatory immigration detention policy," said Judy Rabinovitz, Deputy Director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "The government had an opportunity to argue before the court that their continued detention was necessary but instead decided to release them from jail. The only logical conclusion is that once it looked at the facts of their individual cases, the government itself recognized that their detention was not warranted."
The ACLU's lawsuit on Alli's and Grenade's behalf charged that the U.S. government violates the law by incarcerating people for prolonged periods of time while they fight their immigration cases without providing them with a custody hearing to determine if their detention is justified. In January 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that Alli and Grenade were entitled to individual bond hearings at which the government would have to prove that the men's continued detention was necessary.
"It's wonderful that the government ultimately decided to release Mr. Alli and Mr. Grenade, but its decision also confirms that the lengthy imprisonment they suffered was entirely unnecessary in light of the facts of their individual cases," said Farrin Anello, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Our clients could have spent the last few years working and caring for their families rather than being imprisoned. Many others like them continue to be deprived of their liberty for months or years in immigration detention even though no judge has ever considered whether their detention is necessary."
The men's release brings partial resolution to the case, Alli et al. v. Decker et al ., originally filed in May 2009. Because thousands of other immigrants are detained for months or even years without hearings to determine if their detention is necessary, the ACLU plans to appeal the court's August 2009 decision denying permission to bring this case as a class action.
Lawyers on the case include Rabinovitz and Anello of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, Valerie Burch and Vic Walczak of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Thomas Schmidt III, Kathleen Mullen and Frederick Alcaro of Pepper Hamilton LLP.
An ACLU Web page on prolonged detention of immigrants, "No End in Sight: Immigrants Locked Up for Years Without Hearings," can be found online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/no-end-sight-immigrants-locked-years-without-hearings
More information on the case is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/alli-et-al-v-decker