Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Guest blogger: Katherine Abalos, law student, University of San Francisco:
In 2007, a case was filed, now named Jennings v. Rodriguez, to challenge the detention of a man from Mexico who had been held for over three years. He was neither a fight risk nor a threat to national security; yet, ICE detained him without a bond hearing while he awaited his immigration proceedings. Rodriguez argued that his detention was not justified and that he had a right to a bond hearing while detained in the United States. He petitioned the court to restrict ICE’s unlawful violations of his rights and the rights of other similarly situated immigrants.
A lower court decided in favor of the plaintiff and ruled that the government must provide a bond hearing for immigrants in detention when detention exceeds six months and every six months after. The case was granted certiorari and an opinion was rendered by the Supreme Court in February 2018. The court held that the INA does not give detained immigrants the right to bond hearings while they are detained and reasoned that other forms of relief existed for immigrants in detention such as the 2010 Parole Directive which allows for the parole for asylum seekers who meet stringent identity, flight risk, and dangerousness requirements.
However, since 2017 when Trump issued an executive order severely limiting the Parole Directive, over a thousand asylum seekers have been denied parole and have been detained indefinitely while they await their immigration proceedings, according to the ACLU. For some, this wait is even longer. The ACLU sent out an email blast on March 19, 2018, from Ansly Damus, an asylum seeker from Haiti who has been granted asylum by an immigration judge; yet, he has been detained by ICE for over a year. Damus was able to prove his credible fear of persecution twice to an immigration judge but has been detained indefinitely without cause.
Asylum seekers in detention have very limited access to legal services as the detention centers are typically remotely located. In the United States, nearly 70% of non-detained immigrants receive legal counsel, but in detention, that percentage drops to 14% and only 3% of individuals seeking asylum without an attorney are successful. Yet, despite these harrowing numbers, ICE continues to deny parole to 96% of arriving asylum seekers, in many cases without conducting an interview. Thus, these rejections have resulted in the increasing number of recent arrivals who wait for their relief of persecution behind bars with no end in sight.