plaintiff and child

Gordon v. Johnson and CASTAÑEDA v. Souza

Location: Massachusetts
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: December 23, 2015

What's at Stake

In Gordon v. Johnson, the ACLU and its partners obtained a class action ruling making some 150 Massachusetts detainees a year eligible for individual bond hearings. Rather than being held in “mandatory” immigration detention, without a bond hearing, these noncitizens may now obtain their release if an immigration judge concludes that they do not pose a danger or flight risk. Since May 2014, the federal district court’s ruling has allowed more than 100 noncitizens to be released from mandatory detention and remain with their families while their immigration cases are resolved.

In Castaneda v. Souza, a case that was consolidated for argument with Gordon, the ACLU successfully argued as amicus that the government had improperly subjected Leiticia Castaneda to detention without an individual bond hearing. The case resulted in Ms. Castaneda’s release.

Although a panel of the First Circuit upheld the legal basis for the district court’s rulings in these two cases, the full Court granted the government’s petition for rehearing en banc. On December 23, 2015 in a tied vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the two district court decisions rejecting the government’s interpretation of the “mandatory” detention provision. The judgment allows approximately 100 immigrants with pending cases to remain with their families.

Counsel for plaintiffs include the ACLU of Massachusetts, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and the Political Asylum / Immigration Representation Project.

photo credit: Paul Shoul

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