Immigrant Rights Groups Demand Timely Bond Hearings and Legal Protections for Asylum Seekers
SEATTLE, WA – Yesterday, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the federal government’s targeted efforts to deter and obstruct asylum seekers seeking protection in the United States filed a motion for preliminary injunction demanding timely bond hearings that comport with due process.
The motion was filed in Padilla v. ICE in federal district court in Seattle, Washington by plaintiffs on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of asylum seekers who are detained after entering the United States. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Immigration Council represent the plaintiffs and proposed class members.
Plaintiffs are asking the court to order the government to provide qualifying individuals with bona fide asylum claims a bond hearing before an immigration judge within seven days of their request. Currently, there is no specified timeline and some asylum seekers languish for weeks or months before appearing in front of an immigration judge.
In addition, plaintiffs seek an order requiring basic due process protections in the bond hearing, including that immigration judges record the hearings and make individualized findings if they deny release. Despite the fact that immigration courts record all other types of immigration hearings, they do not record bond hearings. Moreover, when an immigration judge denies release, she or he simply marks an “X” on a form and does not state the basis for the decision, leaving asylum seekers with no way to assess the basis for appeal. And, unlike other custody hearings involving civil detention, the immigration court does not require the government to justify continued detention, but instead places the burden on the detained asylum seeker to demonstrate that she or he should be released.
“The Supreme Court has made clear that civil detention cannot be used as a punitive measure,” said Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Yet, the manner in which the federal government conducts these bond hearings demonstrates that they are being weaponized, imposing prolonged detention and suffering on asylum seekers in a concerted effort to block their asylum applications.”
“Locking people up for weeks or months after they have proven that they have bona fide asylum claim and then denying them a fair and transparent release process is contrary to fundamental pillars of the American judicial system,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council. “We are asking the court to end these injustices and guarantee a fair process.”
The motion for preliminary injunctive relief can be read here, as well as the amended complaint, the motion for class certification, and the government’s motion to dismiss.