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ICE Forced to Modify Bond Practices in Immigration Court Proceedings

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been enjoined by a federal district court in Seattle, Washington from summarily denying personal recognizance bonds in certain detention proceedings as a result of a class action filed by Maria Sandra Rivera. Rivera was taken into custody in January of 2014 and told that she would need $7,500 to be released.  The amount was later reduced to $3,500 but she was still unable to pay and remained in custody until her asylum petition was granted in November of 2014.

Rivera alleged that "Immigration Judges in Seattle and Tacoma Immigration Courts uniformly deny all requests for 'conditional release" under 8 U.S.C. Section 1226(a) on the ground that this statutory provision restrict IJs to permitting aliens' release on a minimum $100 bond," and that this practice violated Section 1226(a), that permits such a release. Rivera had sought a Court order declaring that policy unlawful and provide all undocumented individuals with bond hearings where conditional requests for conditional parole could be considered.

The district court granted class action certification after the parties stipulated that the matter "rais(ed) a purely legal issue," and "no material facts were in dispute," while also ruling against defendant ICE's motion for summary judgment.

"The Court finds that Section 1226(a) permits IJs to consider conditions for release beyond a monetary bond.  Immigration Judges in Seattle and Tacoma presiding over bond hearings conducted pursuant to 9 USC Section 1226(a) must henceforth consider whether to grant conditional parole in lieu of imposing a monetary bond,...(but) will not yet enforce this Order with respect to aliens who have been detained following their bond hearings."

The court also ordered that undocumented individuals who had been detained "after having bonds imposed by Seattle and Tacoma Immigration Judges in Section 1226(a) bond hearings," be granted new bond hearings in accordance with this order. See:  Rivera v. Holder, C14-1597RSL, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, April 13, 2015. 


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Related legal case

Rivera v. Holder