The ACLU is challenging the incarceration of immigrants in detention centers for prolonged and indefinite periods of time while they fight their immigration cases.
In November of 2006, the ACLU of Southern California, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and the Stanford Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic filed lawsuits in federal district court on behalf of four immigrant men who were being held indefinitely in the Terminal Island Federal Detention Center in San Pedro, Calif., while they pursued legitimate legal challenges to their removal. All four had been detained for prolonged periods of time, and yet had never received a bond hearing to determine if their detention was justified. Shortly after the lawsuits were filed, the district court ordered the government to provide the men with bond hearings, and by February 2007, all four were released.
The government appealed the district court's decision in three of the cases. Two of these cases — involving the Reverend Raymond Soeoth and Amadou Lamine Diouf — were argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 7, 2008, along with the cases of two other immigrants, Luis Felipe Casas-Castrillon and Manuel Prieto-Romero, who are still incarcerated after six and three years of detention, respectively. The ACLU filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the cases of Casas-Castrillon and Prieto-Romero, which were argued by attorneys from the Federal Defenders Office of San Diego and the Northwest Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Washington.