This week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of immigrants who are held in mandatory lock-up without any opportunity for a bail hearing. The lead plaintiff in the case is a 59-year-old Jamaican green-card holder who has lived in the United States for 30 years.
Eight months ago, the man was arrested and now faces deportation in connection with an alleged attempted drug sale from more than 17 years ago. Since the day of his arrest, the man has been held in custody without an option for bail even though he does not pose a flight risk or a danger to society.
The man's arrest has devastated his family, including his two adult daughters who are U.S. citizens and his grandchildren who are U.S. citizens. The man has worked as a union carpenter for years and has earned high praises from his employers. But none of that matters when it comes to immigration lock-up.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 requires that all immigrants deemed deportable because of an alleged crime are detained until their criminal case can be heard, which can take months or even years. Last year alone, 429,000 immigrants were put into lock-up according to the Department of Homeland Security, costing a total of $2 billion.
In their class action lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the practice runs contrary to core American values and constitutional due process protections, including a fair trial and equal protection under the law. The ACLU has vowed to fight for the rights of people like the 59-year-old, who have worked hard to build a life in the United States.
Source: Huffington Post, "ACLU Files Class Action Lawsuit Challenging Mandatory Immigration Lock-Up," Michael Tan, Nov. 15, 2012