The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that immigration judges and the Department of Homeland Security must consider an immigrant’s financial resources when setting bond. This is a major win for undocumented immigrants since there have been multiple reports of people being incarcerated for several years simply because they could not afford to pay bond.
The ruling stems from the case Hernandez v. Sessions, a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, the American Civil Liberties Union, and lawyers from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. The law firm handled the case pro bono.
Nine former immigration judges and the American Bar Organization filed amicus briefs in support of the lawsuit.
It is important to point out that since this ruling was made in a Ninth Circuit Court case, it is not binding on courts in other circuits. New Jersey is the Third Circuit and New York is the Second Circuit.
If a member of your family was detained by immigration authorities, contact my office to discuss your case. I know what’s at stake, and I will compassionately help you navigate the incredibly complicated U.S. immigration system. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Jersey immigration lawyer from the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
Judge Who Issued Ruling Said Poverty Is Not a Justification for Imprisonment
Although Judge Stephen Reinhardt recognized that temporarily detaining non-citizens is sometimes justified due to concerns related to flight risk and public safety, he stated that poverty is not a justification for imprisonment. Before the ruling, courts only had to consider a defendant’s financial resources when setting bond in non-immigrant cases, but the ruling extends that courtesy to immigrant cases.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Honduran-native Cesar Matias, had been incarcerated for four years because he was unable to pay a $3,000 bond. Matias entered the country more than a decade ago to flee from persecution because he was homosexual. His application for asylum has not yet been decided.
Although Matias has since been released thanks to publicity from the lawsuit, there are dozens of other immigrants in similar circumstances.
Although the Hernandez v. Sessions ruling is certainly a victory for undocumented immigrants, there are countless ways that the U.S. immigration system fails to provide justice to those who need it most. If you or a member of your family is facing an immigration crisis, contact my office to discuss your situation.
I will evaluate your case, answer your questions, and do all that I can to help you pursue your immigration goals. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule an initial consultation with an immigration attorney in New Jersey. If you would like to learn more about U.S. immigration laws and procedures, visit the USAttorneys website.