Federal Court Says Prolonged Mandatory Detention Of Immigrants Unconstitutional

September 1, 2011 5:17 pm

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A federal appeals court ruled today that detaining immigrants for prolonged periods of time without a bond hearing is unconstitutional. The decision, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, held that immigrants may be detained for only a reasonable amount of time before getting a hearing to determine whether their detention is necessary, siding with the ACLU on the case.

“Today’s decision recognizes that the Constitution does not allow the government to lock people up for years without bond hearings,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The ruling is a victory for immigrants who have been subjected to prolonged detention without due process of law. The government should use this decision as an opportunity to change course and to conduct an immediate individualized review of all prolonged detainees to determine if their detention is actually necessary.”

The ruling affects hundreds of immigration detainees held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which are both in the Third Circuit. The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania argued the case on behalf of Cheikh Diop from Senegal, who was detained for nearly three years.

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