Federal Judge Says ICE Can’t Hold Potential Deportees for more than 6 Months without a Bond Hearing

Sunday, June 01, 2014
Mark Reid (photo: New Haven Independant)

A federal judge in Massachusetts ruled last week that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) can’t hold immigrants more than six months without a bond hearing.


District Judge Michael A. Ponsor wrote (pdf) that ICE must “immediately cease and desist subjecting all current and future class members, that is, those detainees held…beyond six months—to mandatory detention.” Ponsor further ruled that ICE “shall immediately determine the custody of every current class member…. and timely provide a bond hearing to every class member that seeks a redetermination of his or her custody.”


For now, the ruling applies only to those held in Massachusetts, which comprises the class in the suit filed by Mark Reid, a U.S. resident born in Jamaica who was held more than a year while ICE attempted to deport him for non-violent drug convictions. Reid, a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, was released from detention on $25,000 bond February 25 after 16 months of being held by ICE, which had put a “detainer request” on Reid as he was paroled from serving three years in prison on burglary and drug charges. Yale law students had fought for Reid to get his bond hearing. 


The American Civil Liberties Union would like the scope of the ruling to be expanded to the entire country. “In light of Judge Ponsor's well-reasoned rulings and the growing chorus of federal courts that have rejected the government’s draconian interpretation of its detention authority, we call on the Obama Administration to adopt the rule in this case nationwide,” Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, which served as co-counsel, said in a  statement. “Immigrants deserve the opportunity to ask a judge for the chance to return to their families while they challenge their deportations.”


Reid, who lives in New Haven, Connecticut and has a daughter and cousins there, still must win his deportation case. “Emotionally, it’s indescribable,” he told the New Haven Independent. “It’s a lot of stress... the sense that you’re not part of the United States. “It’s beyond unfair.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

ICE Violated Rights With Prolonged Detentions (by Jamie Ross, Courthouse News Service)

Reid Walks Free, For Now (by Thomas MacMillan, New Haven Independent)

Reid v. Donelan/In re Reid (Yale Law School Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic)

Immigrants Fighting Deportation Have Highest Success Rate in 20 Years (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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