ACLU Comment on Supreme Court Immigration Detention Ruling

February 27, 2018 12:00 pm

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WASHINGTON – In a 5-to-3 decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling requiring that immigrants subjected to prolonged detention must be given a custody hearing. Two lower federal courts had interpreted federal immigration detention statutes to require hearings after six months of detention. Today’s ruling sent the case back to the federal appeals court to consider whether the statutes violate the Constitution.

At issue is the government’s practice of locking up immigrants indefinitely as they defend their right to remain in the U.S., without holding a hearing before a judge to determine whether they must be detained. The government detains thousands of immigrants without custody hearings each day, including lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, and survivors of torture. Many of these people will ultimately win their deportation cases, but are forced to unjustly suffer prolonged detention.

ACLU attorney Ahilan Arulanantham, who argued the Supreme Court case, had this reaction:

“The Trump administration is trying to expand immigration detention to record-breaking levels as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities. We have shown through this case that when immigrants get a fair hearing, judges often release them based on their individual circumstances. We look forward to going back to the lower courts to show that these statutes, now interpreted by the Supreme Court to require detention without any hearing, violate the Due Process Clause.”

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