FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legal Aid Justice Center has won an important first-in-the-nation class action case in federal court in Alexandria, establishing the right to bond hearings for a class of detained immigrants whom the government is holding in long-term no-bond detention.
When immigrants are deported to countries where human rights violations are rampant, they often find themselves subject to persecution, torture, or even death threats. And since the U.S. government almost never gives a visa to someone who has already been deported, these individuals may find themselves with no option other than to try to return to the United States and cross the border illegally to seek a form of legal protection from persecution known as “withholding of removal.”
Previously, ICE and the immigration courts refused to grant bond to these individuals, holding them in prison-like conditions in immigration detention centers for months if not years while they fought out their cases. Legal Aid Justice Center filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of five immigrants held in this prolonged no-bond detention, and won release for two of them, but the government refused to apply the decision more broadly to other similarly situated immigrants held in detention.
We then filed a first-in-the-nation class action, seeking access to bond hearings for all immigrants detained in Virginia who fall into this category. On February 26, 2018, federal district judge Leonie M. Brinkema granted our motions in full, giving our clients and the class members all of the relief we asked for. We understand that there are about 50 immigrants currently detained at the Farmville detention center who meet this description, with more being arrested every week. Now, they will have the chance to pay a bond and leave detention, reunite with their families, and resume normal lives while they fight their cases for protection.
Special thanks to our pro bono co-counsel at Mayer Brown LLP, Murray Osorio LLP, Law Office of James Reyes, and Blessinger Legal PLLC – we couldn’t possibly do it without you!
The judge’s opinion can be found here: Memorandum Opinion (PDF)
The judge’s order can be found here: Order (PDF)
The opinion applies to all immigrants who are in pending withholding-only proceedings, and “as of December 7, 2017 or at any time thereafter are detained within the Commonwealth of Virginia under the authority of [ICE].” The government has been ordered to notify all class members by March 13, 2018, and to provide them with a bond hearing (or a Joseph hearing, if appropriate) by March 28, 2018.
We will be monitoring compliance with this opinion, and want to hear from Virginia attorneys who represent a class member. If you represent a class member, or if you have questions as to whether your client might be a class member, please e-mail LAJC attorney Rachel McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.