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Federal judge orders fair hearings for immigration detainees
© WikiMedia (U.S. Customs and Border Control)
Federal judge orders fair hearings for immigration detainees

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Maryland ordered Friday that non-citizens held in immigrant detention centers must be provided fair hearings and the government must prove if an immigrant is a flight risk. Consistent with the Trump administration’s orders, immigrants, even asylum seekers, were being held without bond, despite never having a bond hearing. Immigrants are often held with no explanation or understanding of why they are being detained.

The ruling halts the Trump administration’s attempts to hold immigrants in detention centers without legal reasoning. This order declared that all bond hearings within Maryland for immigrants require that the government must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the noncitizen is a flight risk or a danger to the community when determining their bond. Specifically, the order said that the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) is to make sure that all bond hearings pursuant to 8 USC § 1226(a) meet the following:

  • The government bears the burden to prove that the noncitizen is a danger and/or flight risk in a hearing if the individual is to be denied bond.
  • The Immigration Judge must consider the individuals actual ability to pay the bond amount
  • Any current immigrant, § 1226(a) detainee within Maryland who received a bond hearing not in conformance to this order (the Constitutional one), must receive a new bond hearing
  • The judge gave the parties 21 days to resolve the injustices done by this no-bond holding policy enacted by the White House

The lawsuit was originally filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Maryland, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition and Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP for immigrants housed in Maryland. The ACLU and other defenders of immigrant rights are considering this a landmark ruling that could see a domino effect in other states that are currently holding immigrants without legal justification.

Nick Taichi Steiner, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland said:

In a system that disproportionately affects people of color, no person should have their liberty stripped away because they could not afford to buy their freedom. We are ecstatic that bond proceedings in Maryland’s immigration court will change for the better. The constitutional problems with the immigration court’s bond procedures made it almost guaranteed that an immigrant would have to sit in jail, without the government having to prove why they should not have their freedom.