Mandatory Immigration Detention Challenge

A California civil rights class action by immigrants has challenged the federal policy of detaining certain aliens without giving them an opportunity to prove they pose no risk of fleeing and no danger to the public if released on bond.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the Northern District of California, challenges the immigration practice as a constitutional due process violation in certain deportation cases.  On any given day, more than 3,500 people are detained at immigration detention facilities in California, according to the lawsuit by the ACLU of Northern California, the Asian Law Caucus and the Keker Van Nest law firm.

The lead plaintiff, Eduardo Vega Padilla, 48, came to the U.S. in 1966 at the age of 16 months.  He received a green card before he was two.  After the sudden death of his father and a broken marriage, in 1997 and 1999 he was convicted of drug possession.  While on probation a firearm was found in a shed behind his home and he spent six months in jail in 2002.  For more than a decade he has had no run-ins with the law and cared for his elderly mother and lived with his daughter and grandson.  His five children and six grandchildren are all U.S. citizens.

Despite the clean record, Padilla was detained by immigration officials in August 2013 who came to his home.  He has been detained at the RioCosumnesCorrectionalCenter in SacramentoCounty ever since. The lawsuit argues Padilla and many like him should be given bond hearings and the chance to show he is entitled to release on bond while challenging his deportation.

Each of the named plaintiffs has a past criminal conviction that, potentially, could result in deportation, according to the lawsuit.  But each has lived in freedom since their release and for periods of years have developed ties to family and community that would show them unlikely to leave or engage in any crime, according to the lawsuit.

Case:  Preap v. Beers, No. 13-5754



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