Court Orders Bond Hearings in Suit by Bay Area Residents Stuck in Immigration Detention

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Plaintiff Jose Gutierrez Sanchez and his family

SAN FRANCISCO  A federal judge this week granted a preliminary injunction in a class action lawsuit filed by two Bay Area fathers stuck in immigration detention and denied bond hearings.

Plaintiffs Esteban Aleman Gonzalez of Antioch and Jose Gutierrez Sanchez of San Lorenzo have been detained for over eight months at the Contra Costa West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California. In March, they sued the federal government challenging their unlawful and prolonged detention.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled Tuesday that people who have been detained under a particular immigration statute cannot be held by the government for more than 180 days without a bond hearing before an immigration judge. She also granted a motion for class certification. The ruling is expected to affect hundreds of people detained throughout the Ninth Circuit.

“We feel vindicated by the court’s ruling that our clients cannot be held in such lengthy detention without a hearing before an immigration judge,” said Amalia Wille, attorney at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP. “Federal law entitles them to these hearings as they fight for their legal right to remain in the United States.”

Aleman Gonzalez and Gutierrez Sanchez were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in the Bay Area in the fall of 2017. They are seeking asylum-type protection in the United States, and asylum officers with the Department of Homeland Security have determined that both men have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in Mexico. The federal government was previously detaining both men without bond while they pursued their claims, and refused to provide them a hearing on whether their detention was justified.

“Esteban and Jose and their families have continued to suffer during their long detention,” said Alison Pennington, Senior Staff Attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza. “They will now finally have the opportunity to be reunited with their families and communities and return to their jobs while they pursue their cases.”

In bond hearings provided under the order, immigration judges will determine whether they can return to their families. Both Aleman Gonzalez and Gutierrez Sanchez have young U.S. citizen children and are the sole providers for their families.

In February of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled against the right to periodic bond hearings under other detention statutes in Jennings v. Rodriguez. Judge Corley noted that Jennings v. Rodriguez lends support to Plaintiffs’ entitlement to bond hearings under the statute authorizing their detention.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The class is represented by Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP (lead counsel), Centro Legal de la Raza, the Law Offices of Matthew H. Green, and the American Civil Liberties Foundations of California.

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