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Judge rules immigrants must have bond hearings within 6 months

There are a number of immigrants in Summerville, some of whom are living in South Carolina without legal permission. Whether their visas have expired or they never had them to begin with, immigrants outside the legal system are at particular risk of immigration detention and deportation. The deportation process is hardly quick, however, which means that many people are held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement longer than they would have initially assumed.

A federal judge in Massachusetts has recently held, however, that immigrants cannot be held indefinitely without a bond hearing. Though the ruling currently only affects Massachusetts, this kind of ruling could find its way to South Carolina, too. Especially with a growing number of court cases that find a right to bond hearings, federal courts in South Carolina may soon be persuaded to issue their own such rulings.

A bond hearing is the first step to getting an immigration bond which allows immigrants to re-enter the community while they wait for their deportation hearing. If these detained immigrants are facing a possible deportation, being out on bond gives them the ability to see their families before they are removed from the country. It also gives them the chance to put their affairs in order.

The judge in this case held that the Constitution does not allow the federal government to detain immigrants for more than six months without giving them a chance to argue for their release. Moreover, he noted that immigrants held longer than six months "suffer[] irreparable harm each day they are detained," an insight that many within ICE have not made.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "ICE Violated Rights With Prolonged Detentions," Jamie Ross, May 30, 2014

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