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NIJC Condemns Weakening of Due Process as Government Targets More Immigrants for Prolonged Detention

Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center

CHICAGO - The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is deeply disappointed by today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) do not have the right to a bond hearing under immigration law. The 5-3 ruling in Jennings v. Rodriguez, which reversed previous rulings by six federal courts of appeals, found that the statute requires immigration authorities to detain thousands of individuals as long as their cases are pending. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts to determine whether the law is constitutional. 

As the Trump administration detains more immigrants from our communities than ever before, and holds them longer, it is troubling that our nation’s highest court has found that those individuals have no right to have a judge consider, after several months, if their detention should continue. These individuals often have strong cases against removal. Some are long-term residents of this country, who have been a part of our social fabric for decades, whose detention leaves behind broken families and communities. Others came seeking refuge, fleeing violence and persecution abroad. But all are kept in jails for months or years while their cases are pending in the courts. There is no public safety reason to keep people locked up in costly and inhumane jail cells as they seek immigration relief. 

While fairly narrow, the Supreme Court’s decision today is a failure of justice. It is now incumbent on the lower courts to do the right thing, uphold the rule of law, and recognize that an immigration agent’s choice to detain an individual indefinitely does not comply with due process.