What's at Stake
On October 29, 2015, a federal appeals court affirmed and expanded its prior ruling that immigrants in prolonged detention receive a bond hearing. In Rodriguez v. Robbins, a class-action lawsuit , the court upheld an order requiring bond hearings for detainees locked up six months or longer while they fight their deportation cases. The ruling stands to benefit thousands of immigration detainees across the Ninth Circuit, where an estimated 25% of immigrant detainees are held every year.
Such detention is a massive waste of taxpayer dollars, at a daily cost of $164 per detainee per day, and more than $2 billion a year. For these immigrants, this ruling reaffirms that, in America, no one should be locked up for months or years without a hearing to determine if their detention is justified.
Rodriguez, et al. v. Robbins, et al. was originally filed in a federal district court in Los Angeles in May 2007, on behalf of Alejandro Rodriguez an immigrant from Mexico who was detained more than three years pending completion of his removal proceedings without ever receiving a bond hearing. In the lawsuit, Rodriquez asked for a hearing to determine if his prolonged detention was justified and to represent other similarly situated immigrants in the Central District of California. A district court in California ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to grant a class action. The ACLU appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in April, 2008.
The Ninth Circuit, disagreeing with the government’s claims, found that it had clear jurisdiction to allow the lawsuit to go forward as a class action and that a class action would provide a remedy for immigration detainees who are unrepresented. The court explained that without class certification, “many of the putative class members likely would not be able to adjudicate their claimed need of a bond hearing,” and that class treatment was “likely necessary to provide the remedy sought.”
Counsel for plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union 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.