June 13, 2022

SCOTUS OK’s Indefinite Immigrant Detention

SCOTUS OK’s Indefinite Immigrant Detention

Media Contact: Noble Frank, noble@mnfreedomfund.org, (952) 353-6930

MINNEAPOLIS — The following is a statement from Mirella Ceja-Orozco and Elizer Darris, Co-Executive Directors of the Minnesota Freedom Fund, about today’s Supreme Court ruling in Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez, essentially denying thousands of noncitizens fundamental due process protections against arbitrary and prolonged immigration custody:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling that immigrants in prolonged federal custody aren’t guaranteed a bond hearing after six months of being detained is a depressing, if unsurprising, reminder of the cruelties and structural inequities of our immigration system. In practice, it means that non-citizens — especially those who cannot afford legal representation — stand to be detained indefinitely unless they engage in complicated, costly, and lengthy habeas corpus proceedings. 

The only silver lining is that President Biden has the power to immediately restore the due-process rights that this ruling takes away. The question is whether he’ll do so — or whether he’ll allow thousands of immigrants, many with open cases that can take months or years to resolve, to languish in federal custody indefinitely. 

Let’s be clear about what this ruling will mean in human terms if Biden fails to act. In many parts of the country, immigrants with these types of federal custody cases were entitled to bond hearings after six months.  That gives them the chance to reunite with their families while their removal process continues — and puts the onus on the government to make a compelling case for their continued detention.

This decision takes away that vital right and instead clears the way for detainees to be held for months or years regardless of whether or not they present a flight risk or have been accused of any crimes while in the U.S. or abroad.

It gets worse. The ruling also means that individual immigrants who want to challenge their detention need to do so in federal court, rather than immigration court, which is often far costlier and more complicated. Simply put, most detainees won’t be able to afford to pursue their chance at freedom.

During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden promised to expand due-process protections and make our immigration system more humane and equitable. Today’s ruling puts the ball squarely in the president’s court. We call on him to keep his promises — and to ensure that all detainees get their day in court.”

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