October 3, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a case that will decide the fate of thousands of people languishing in immigration prisons without a hearing. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ahilan Arulanantham argued the case.

At issue is the federal government’s practice of locking up immigrants for years without a hearing to determine if imprisonment is warranted. The Department of Homeland Security claims it can hold people indefinitely while they defend their right to remain in the United States. This includes lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, survivors of torture, and others with strong claims to remain. Many of them will ultimately win their deportation cases, but the government forces them to suffer prolonged detention during the court process.

The ACLU challenged the government and won in the lower courts, including a 2015 federal appeals court decision from the Ninth Circuit that required hearings for immigrants once their detention exceeds six months. The government sought review of that decision in the Supreme Court, which first heard the case in 2016. The court ordered the case be reheard.

Following today’s arguments, Arulanantham said:

“Forcing people to languish indefinitely in detention without a hearing as they make their case to remain in the U.S. is cruel and unnecessary. We’re hopeful the Supreme Court, which has long held that the right to a hearing is a bedrock due process requirement, will agree. The rights at stake in this case are as critical as ever given the Trump administration’s pledge to lock up even more people as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities.”

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/jennings-v-rodriguez

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