A federal judge in Springfield, Mass yesterday ruled that the federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) must hold bond hearings for immigrants detained for longer than six months in Massachusetts. Yale Law School students who pursued the case, citing ICE’s secrecy, were unsure today how many detained immigrants could be granted status in the class action, which includes dozens, if not hundreds of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents. U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor disagreed with ICE’s claim that the U.S. Constitution allows immigrants to be indefinitely detained without a hearing. The ruling will provide the detained immigrants the chance to present their cases for release to judges. “We’ve waited so long for this ruling and the promise of justice that it holds for us,’ said Alex Lewis, a 20-year-old Massachusetts resident who has been detained for almost 9 months, in a statement. “I miss my mom and just hope that I can hug her again.” In January 2014, Ponsor granted the lead plaintiff, Mark Reid of Hamden, a bond hearing because of his prolonged detention. A month later Ponsor certified a class of similarly situated detained immigrants. “This is a well-deserved victory for our clients,” said Mary Yanik, a law student intern in the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. “Individual immigrants have been successfully challenging prolonged detention for years, but this order will finally guarantee hearings for all detainees in Massachusetts. Judge Ponsor rightfully rejected the government’s radical argument that its power to detain immigrants during proceedings is unlimited.”
“In light of Judge Ponsor’s well-reasoned rulings and the growing chorus of federal courts that have rejected the government’s draconian interpretation of its detention authority, we call on the Obama Administration to adopt the rule in this case nationwide,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Immigrants deserve the opportunity to ask a judge for the chance to return to their families while they challenge their deportations.” The ACLU is serving as co-counsel on the case along with WilmerHale.
Those who believe they may be entitled to a bond hearing under the ruling should contact the legal team at 203-432-4800.