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Ninth Circuit: Non-Citizen Detainees Entitled to Automatic Bond Hearings

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a permanent injunction requiring automatic bond hearings for non-citizens who are detained longer than six months under three immigration statutes. The Court also held that hearings must be held at six month intervals when detention exceeds twelve months. Finally, alternatives to detention must be considered in determining whether to release a non-citizen on bond.

On May 16, 2007, non-citizen Alejandro Garcia filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, challenging his prolonged detention without a bond hearing. The case was consolidated with a similar action filed by Alejandro Rodriguez.

Ultimately, the district court certified the case as a class action. The class was defined as: "all non-citizens within the Central District of California who: (1) are or were detained for longer than six months pursuant to one of the general immigration statutes pending completion of removal proceedings, including judicial review, (2) are not and have not been detained pursuant to a national security detention statute, and (3) have not been afforded a hearing to determine whether their detention is justified." The court approved subclasses corresponding to four specific immigration statutes — 8 USC §§ 1225(b), 1226(a), 1226(c), and 1231(a). The class did not include suspected terrorists detained under 8 USC § 1537, or those non-citizens "subject to a final order of removal."

On September 13, 2012, the district court entered a preliminary injunction requiring bond hearings for non-citizens held under §§ 1225(b) and 1226(c). The government appealed and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. See: Rodriguez v. Robbins, 715 F.3d 1127 (9th Cir. 2013) [PLN, Feb. 2014, p.50].

The district court then granted the Class summary judgment and entered a permanent injunction, requiring a bond hearing by the 195th day of detention under §§ 1225(b), 1226(a), 1226(c) and 1231(a).

The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the statutory scheme requires that all class members who are in prolonged detention be provided with automatic "bond hearings at which the government bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the class member is a danger to the community or a flight risk." The appellate court also concluded that hearings must be held "at six month intervals for class members detained for more than twelve months" and "alternatives to detention" must be considered when determining to release a non-citizen on bond.

The Court of Appeals finally held that the district court incorrectly created a subclass of non-citizens detained under § 1231(a). That statute applies only to non-citizens who have been "ordered removed," but the class excluded detainees subject to a final order of removal. "Simply put, the § 1231(a) subclass does not exist," the Court held.

See: Rodriguez v. Robbins, 803 F.3d 502 (9th Cir. 2015).


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Related legal case

Rodriguez v. Robbins



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