Communications's blog

At Liberty: Friday, September 26, 2014

26 people win release from 'mandatory' immigration detention

Individuals released from 'mandatory' immigration detention reunite with their families.

Left to right: Cesar Chavarria and his fiancee; Mackendy Calice and his family; Clayton Gordon and his son; Richard Thompson and his family

At least 26 noncitizens affected by a federal judge's May 2014 order requiring the government to provide bond hearings to a class of noncitizens have been granted bond and been released as a result of the court's order.

One of those is Richard Thompson, who recently returned home to his fiancée and their daughter after more than two years in ICE custody. Thompson came to the U.S. as a legal permanent resident when he was a child. In February 2012, ICE detained him at his home and put him into removal proceedings based on a 2001 conviction which occurred when he was in high school, and for which he served no time in jail. Even though Thompson had had no further contact with the criminal justice system, ICE argued that his 2001 conviction not only made him removable, but also required him to be subject to mandatory detention.

Thompson is asserting that he is a U.S. citizen by virtue of his father, but his case has remained unresolved after more than two years. Until the federal court's decision in Gordon v. Johnson, Thompson did not have the opportunity for an individualized bond hearing. Following the court's ruling, eleven of Thompson's family members travelled from as far away as New York, Connecticut and Canada to attend his July bond hearing, and pooled together all the money they had to meet the $6,000 bond set by the immigration judge.

This month, Thompson went home to his fiancée and their two-year-old daughter, who was born two weeks after ICE detained him in 2012.

Those affected by the federal court's ruling in Gordon also include a lawful permanent resident who came to the United States from Canada when she was an infant. The 47-year-old has limited mental capacity, and was held by ICE without a bond hearing even though she had been living a law-abiding life in her community for the past 8 years. After the federal court's ruling, she was granted bond and reunited with her family.

Information recently submitted by the government shows that noncitizens have been granted bond in 33 out of 70 bond hearings so far under Gordon. At least 26 individuals have been released on bond, while additional bond hearings are ongoing.

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