A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that a limited group of people being held in immigration detention while facing possible deportation is entitled to a bond hearing after six months of custody.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley made the ruling in a federal lawsuit filed in March by two Mexican citizens fromthe East Bay who have been held in immigration custody for more than six months.
Corley also certified the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of
all undocumented immigrants within the limited group in the nine western states in the jurisdiction of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.
She issued a preliminary injunction ordering bond hearings after
six months for all detained immigrants in that category, including the two original plaintiffs, Esteban Aleman Gonzalez of Antioch and Jose Gutierrez Sanchez of San Lorenzo.
Judah Lakin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, estimated that the
decision covers at least several hundred detainees in the nine states.
“It does not apply to everyone in immigration detention, but we
think it applies to hundreds of people,” he said.
He said that most of the people in the covered class are those who have received an order for removal, or deportation, and who are also seeking or appealing for permission to remain in the United States because they fear persecution if returned to their home countries.
To reach her ruling, Corley differentiated the lawsuit by Gonzalez and Sanchez from a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court said by a 5-3 vote in February that most immigration detainees are not entitled to a bond hearing after six months.
The high court overruled a decision by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit that would have required such hearings for most detainees.
But Corley wrote that the Supreme Court acted in connection with
two specific immigration laws, and said the requests by Gonzalez and Sanchez were made under a different immigration law.
Therefore, Corley said, she was obliged to follow a different 9th Circuit precedent and allow bond hearings in the case before her.
The immigration law cited in the lawsuit before Corley concerns
the detention, release and deportation of undocumented people who have already received a deportation order but are challenging it.
Gonzalez was arrested in August and Sanchez in September. Both men previously entered the United States illegally and were deported, but then crossed the border again and received new orders for removal.
The men each have two young citizen daughters. The pair is being
held at the Contra Costa West County Detention Facility in Richmond.
Both claim a fear of persecution if they are returned to Mexico.
The lawsuit says Gonzalez fears persecution or torture by the Zeta drug cartel and Sanchez fears such treatment because he is bisexual.
A fear claim is similar to an asylum request, but it can result in a procedure known as withholding of removal, or indefinite delay of deportation, rather than a grant of asylum, Lakin said.
A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman was not available for
–Julia Cheever, Bay City News