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On October 3, 2017, the Supreme Court heard reargument in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a class-action lawsuit by aliens challenging their continued detention under civil immigration statutes without the benefit of an individualized bond hearing or determination that otherwise justified their continued detention. After several rounds of litigation in U.S. district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the district court entered a permanent injunction in favor of the alien class members. Under the injunction, the government must provide any class member who is subject to “prolonged detention”—six months or more—with a bond hearing before an Immigration Judge (“IJ”). At that hearing, the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the detainee is a flight risk or a danger to the community to justify the denial of bond. On subsequent appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed all aspects of the injunction except with respect to aliens detained under § 1231(a) (aliens who have been “ordered removed”).
Although the Supreme Court heard argument on the case last term, it then requested supplemental briefing on the following questions and set the case for reargument this October: (1) Whether aliens seeking admission to the United States who are subject to mandatory detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release into the United States, if detention lasts six months; (2) whether criminal or terrorist aliens who are subject to mandatory detention under Section 1226(c) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release, if detention lasts six months; and (3) whether, in bond hearings for aliens detained for six months under Sections 1225(b), 1226(c), or 1226(a), the alien is entitled to release unless the government demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community, whether the length of the alien’s detention must be weighed in favor of release, and whether new bond hearings must be afforded automatically every six months.
To discuss the case, we have Richard Samp, Chief Counsel of the Washington Legal Foundation.