Three Plaintiffs detained without bond in an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Washington recently prevailed in their lawsuit over the Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) interpretation and enforcement of the mandatory detention statute that denies bond hearings for individual in pending removal proceedings. The Court granted relief to the Plaintiffs, enjoined DHS from detaining the plaintiffs and clarified the meaning of the law, stating, “Here, there is no question that all class members will benefit equally from the court’s declaration that the government may not subject an alien to mandatory detention via Section 1226(c) unless the government took the alien into custody immediately upon his release from custody for an offense described in subparagraphs (1)(A) through (1)(D).[i]”
The Plaintiffs were released from criminal sentences many years before being arrested and detained without bond hearings by ICE.
The Plaintiffs in this case are: Bassam Yusuf Khoury, a Palestinian and lawful permanent resident since 1976; Alvin Rodriguez Moya, a national of the Dominican Republic and U.S. lawful permanent resident since 1995; and Mr. Carrera, a Mexican national who has been in the U.S. since 1998.[ii]
The issue before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington concerned the way DHS interpreted the mandatory detention of criminal aliens. The law concerning the apprehension and detention of aliens, 8 U.S.C. 1226(c)(2), gives the federal government authority to “lock away certain aliens who are in removal proceedings, denying them bond hearings via the so-called “mandatory detention authority.[iii]”
Many years after they were released by criminal courts to their families and communities, two of the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit, Mr. Khoury and Mr. Rodriguez, were arrested by ICE and held in mandatory detention, without bond hearings, for six months, from April 2013 through October 2013. The third Plaintiff, Mr. Carrera, was held for four months, from April 2013 through August 2013. The Supreme Court has commented in past cases that it may have Due Process concerns about detentions for six months when six weeks would be a more correct period of detention. [p3. Line 10] Without the availability of a bond hearing, the Plaintiffs did not have the opportunity to appear before the immigration court to plea for release back to their families and community pending removal proceedings.
The NWDC, the detention center in Tacoma, operates on a government contract, by GEO Group, who has been the subject of criticism.
All of the Plaintiffs were detained without bond hearings at the Northwest Detention Center (“NWDC”) located next to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. The mega facility with a capacity of 1,000 detainees opened in 2004 under DHS management until 2005 when the GEO Group received the contract to operate the facility for ICE. Several critics suggest contract prisons are profit centers. In an article published in the Huffington Post, the GEO Group was mentioned. “Their business model rests on incarceration, and their profits soared throughout the 1990s and 2000s as harsh sentencing laws, the War on Drugs, and tough immigration enforcement led to a dramatic rise in detention and incarceration.[iv]”
When the Court interpreted the law, it clarified that mandatory detention is only allowed immediately upon release from custody for the underlying offense.
The length of time between release from jail sentences and the ICE arrest was upsetting to the court. Mr. Khoury was released in June 2011 from 30 days in jail on a drug charge; ICE arrested him in April 2013. Mr. Rodriguez served part of a three-year sentence and was released in August 2010; ICE arrested him in April 2013. More than two or three years, Mr. Carrera, who served a 60-day sentence, was released in February 2003, and more than ten years later ICE arrested him in April 2013.[v]
The Court clearly stated in its March 11, 2014, Order: “The government violates the law to the extent it continues to subject to mandatory detention aliens who it did not take into custody at the proper time. The court has no reason to expect that the government will not take appropriate action to end its violation of the law.[vi]”
To learn more about mandatory detentions and removal proceedings, or if someone you know may be improperly held, you can call the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law and litigation. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter.
[i] Khoury v. Asher – Order by Hon Richard A. Jones, Mar. 11, 2013, page 22, lines 19-22.
[ii] Khoury v. Asher – Order by Hon Richard A. Jones, Mar. 11, 2013, page 4, lines 4-10.
[iii] Khoury v. Asher – Order by Hon Richard A. Jones, Mar. 11, 2013, page 2, lines 3-6.
[iv] PRWatch.org: Lockup Quotas Help For-Profit Prison Companies Keep High Profits and Prisons Full. By Brendan Fischer, Sept. 20, 2013.
[v] Khoury v. Asher – Order by Hon Richard A. Jones, Mar. 11, 2013, page 4, lines 5-11.
[vi] Khoury v. Asher – Order by Hon Richard A. Jones, Mar. 11, 2013, page 23, lines 2-8.