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.


William C
William C10 months ago


W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thank you.

Sarah M.
Sarah M6 years ago

Yay! This is wonderful! Finally some common decency.

Deborah L.
Deborah L.6 years ago

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!

Heather G.
Heather G6 years ago

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.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Pego R.
Pego R6 years ago

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

Tom Sullivan
Tom C Sullivan6 years ago

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.

Michael R.
Michael R.6 years ago

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

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda6 years ago

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.