Originally Published in The Hill
Jordan Williams - December 2, 2020
A federal judge in New York has ruled that immigrants must make a court appearance within 10 days of being detained.
The ruling is the first of its kind establishing standards to curb Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) practice of detaining immigrants indefinitely, according to a statement from the civil rights groups that sued ICE.
The groups filed a class action lawsuit in 2018 against ICE, the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office of Immigration Review, accusing the agencies of jailing immigrants in New York for weeks to months before they are taken before a judge.
“Class members may not have a 'fundamental right to be released during removal proceedings,’ ” U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan wrote in her ruling on Monday. “But nor does the Government have an unfettered right to detain them.”
Between 1,000 and 2,000 people are detained by ICE in New York each year, according to the groups. They normally waited less than two weeks to see a judge in 2014. But in 2018, it was more than two months.
According to the groups, many of the people that were detained were entitled to release, but stayed in jail. About 40 percent were released on bond, they noted, adding that others were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who were not deportable.
The petitioners have lived in the U.S. for 16 years, and nearly a third are lawful permanent residents, according to the groups, which added that almost half have children living in the U.S. with some form of legal status.
“Those who are detained by ICE have the same right to due process as everyone else in this country,” Bobby Hodgson, staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “This decision rightly rejects the idea that people can be imprisoned for months before they get an opportunity to show that they are entitled to release.”
The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.