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Court Rules Prolonged Detention of Immigrants Unconstitutional

Court Rules Prolonged Detention of Immigrants Unconstitutional


The constitutional slide toward indefinite detentions began long before the Bush administration adopted the practice as protocol in fighting the war on terror. Immigration detainees have often faced prolonged periods of confinement without a hearing on specific charges or the ability to post bond.

That practice may finally end thanks to a federal appeals court ruling that held that detaining immigrants for prolonged periods of time without a bond is unconstitutional.

The ruling came out of the Third Circuit after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the practice. According to the Court, immigrants may only be detained for a “reasonable” amount of time before a hearing to determine whether their detention is necessary.

It is a common sense ruling that, finally, forces practice to square with constitutional law. There is hardly a belief more foundational to our Bill of Rights than the idea of due process and habeas corpus.

The ruling will immediately affect hundreds of immigration detainees held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, states that both sit in the Third Circuit but could potentially impact thousands of immigration detainees nationwide. It is a clear victory for those who believe that, regardless of your status in life, the government should not be allowed to imprison you for prolonged periods of time without being forced to justify that detention.

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Photo from barnaby via flickr.

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5:44PM PDT on Nov 3, 2011

Yay! This is wonderful! Finally some common decency.

9:16AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Many of these people are ASYLUM seekers. Sorry to shout, but no one seems to get that these are often people who were brutalized in their native country and came to the US for safety -- only to find themselves locked up for years!

7:37AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

Steve R Dear, here you go again.

Hating everyone that isn't a (white) fetus. If the topic were abortion you would be off on your same old bleeding heart, poor little murdered baby rant. Which is really quite pathetic since I'm sure everyone who follows these comments knows you really don't give a damn about any real people.

5:46AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

Thanks for the article.

12:15AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

I think this ia a great ruling. I don't think you guys realize exactly how human rights or dignity-free those places are.

5:33PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Yes I agree, so why not deport them asap, let them apply the way people in other countries do
They are no better than the rest of the people wanting to come here.

8:52AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

I agree, it is wrong. We should deport them expiditiously.

6:57AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Prolonged detention is wrong, especially if it is young children or teenagers that are detained. They miss out on a lot during their formative years that way.
This seems to be false economy. It would be better to employ more people to process the people's claims and either admit them as legal immigrants or repatriate them.

6:17AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Sounds good to me. Make a quick determination--if they are here legally, they stay; if they are not here legally, they get the boot back to where they came from, along with their illegal and anchor babies. Stop wasting taxpayer dollars on foreigners invading America.

6:01AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Jessica dear - here we go again.

There is no reason to detain "immigrants". "Immigrants" have not broken the law.

You are of course, in your misleading bleeding heart way, writing about ILLEGAL ALIENS - criminals that have blatantly broken our laws by sneaking in here like thieves in the night!

And lose the same old bleeding heart, poor little kids picture - it is not representative of the kind of people that are being detained!

On the topic in question though - the federal appeals court is right - they should be investigated quickly and shipped out as soon as their status has been confirmed to be illegal! No need for a trial.

Under no circumstances should they be released on bond! Are you kidding me??? They would disappear in a flash!

They should also not be detained for lengthy periods that cost us, the taxpayers, a ton of money!

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