On February 27, 2018, in Jennings v Rodriguez, 15-1204, the Supreme Court determined that in the Ninth Circuit, (AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, WA, OR, NV) immigrants the government has detained and is considering deporting aren’t entitled by law to a bond hearing after six months in detention and then every six months if they continue to be held.
It is previously held that such periodic bond hearings were required to provide constitutional safe guards. Immigration is civil law and therefore the regular protections provided to those in the criminal justice system do not exist. Some immigrants have/are being held for months on end or even years waiting for their appeals. A vast majority of these immigrants include those caught at the border and those with specific criminal records. For example, an immigrant with any conviction related to a controlled substance is deemed a “mandatory detainee” and therefore is not bond eligible. However with the periodic bond hearings, after 6 months even a mandatory detainee could be given a bond by an immigration judge.
This decision is a huge blow to immigrants and their advocates. Besides providing no constitutional safe guards to the loss of liberty, it also pressures immigrants to drop their appeals and abandon the judicial process entirely. It is easy to dismiss these immigrants since they often have criminal records or no real plausible avenue to obtaining permanent residence or a “green card” however these immigrants often have family members in the United States who rely on them for support financially and emotionally. Families are now being faced with the very real possibility of separation for ten years or more upon deportation. Further the harsh reality of immigration law is that many crimes that would be minor for a US citizen are a death sentence for an immigrant.
Since the ruling, the detained immigration judges are no longer entertaining any “Rodriguez” bond hearings.