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NYCLU Applauds Ruling Giving Detained Immigrants Their Day in Court

NEW YORK, NY In response to the Second Circuit Court’s landmark ruling in Black v. Decker — a case determining that people in unreasonably prolonged mandatory immigration detention are entitled to receive a custody hearing — the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which argued as amicus on behalf of Mr. Black, today issued the following statement from Amy Belsher, Director of Immigrants’ Rights Litigation: 

“Jailing people indefinitely, without justification, is unconstitutional and harmful. This decision will help ensure that our immigration system upholds noncitizens’ civil rights and that they are not wrongfully detained in inhumane, cruel facilities for months or even years on end. Hundreds, if not thousands, of immigrants in New York are detained every year and now district courts have the necessary guidance to quickly order custody hearings when that detention is unconstitutional. By establishing this critical safeguard against arbitrary, unjustified, and prolonged detention, this decision will help reunite people with their families and communities.”

For decades, ICE has been permitted to detain noncitizens — separating them from their families and communities — without ever having to justify their detention, even when it proceeded for months or even years. When noncitizens challenged their detention as unconstitutional in federal courts, the courts applied varied and arbitrary tests — resulting in delayed and disparate outcomes. 

Now, all district courts in New York must apply the same framework that considers noncitizens’ indisputably weighty interest in their freedom and the substantial risk that someone who never receives a custody hearing will be erroneously detained. In cases where these factors outweigh the government’s limited interests in denying noncitizens any process, the Constitution entitles noncitizens to a custody hearing. At that custody hearing, the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that continued detention is necessary and the immigration court must consider alternatives to release and a noncitizen’s ability to pay bond. The Court ruling was also applied to a related case, Keisy G.M. v. Decker.

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