SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.--Today, the County of Santa Clara, Calif., and 19 other cities and counties across the nation joined together in filing an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief with the United States Supreme Court, asking the Court to uphold important constitutional protections for immigrants held in prolonged mandatory immigration detention by the federal government.
The brief, authored by the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office, and joined by a diverse group of local governments, was filed in Jennings v. Rodriguez. The brief supports the arguments of a group of immigrants who were ordered into immigration detention while awaiting deportation proceedings, often for months or years at a time, with no opportunity to be considered for release. The Supreme Court is reviewing a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that immigrants in prolonged mandatory detention must be given a bond hearing every six months where an immigration judge can consider whether they can safely be released based on their individual facts and circumstances.
“All local criminal justice systems provide defendants with basic due process rights,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese. “Denying the same constitutional protections to immigrants in deportation proceedings is contrary to our values and costs taxpayers billions of dollars.”
Counties and cities involved in the amicus brief argue that immigrants held in mandatory detention must be given the same basic constitutional protections granted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government to every person who is arrested for a crime. These basic rights include a hearing where a judge can consider each individual for release based on his or her risk of flight and risk to public safety. Most immigrants do not present a significant flight risk or risk to public safety. When immigrants are not given the right to a bond hearing, many who could safely be released remain stuck in federal immigration detention facilities for months or years, costing billions in taxpayer dollars annually.
“Our amicus brief offers an important local perspective, which has been missing from the conversation about immigration detention without bond hearings,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams. “When the federal government detains people without granting them basic constitutional safeguards, taxpayers, families, communities, and local governments pay the price. We strongly believe the Constitution requires hearings for all immigrants in mandatory detention.”
The amicus brief argues that holding immigrants in mandatory detention without bond hearings also harms their children and families, many of whom are U.S. citizens or lawful residents. Detention of an immigrant parent deprives families of the parent’s income and associated health benefits, and may lead to loss of housing and food insecurity. Children of detained parents often fall behind in school and suffer from psychological problems. The cities and counties filing the brief provide critical services to their local residents, and face increased and costly demands for social services when parents are detained, including foster care, health and mental health care, housing assistance, other public assistance, and law enforcement involvement.
The cities and counties that joined the County of Santa Clara in the filing include: the County of Alameda, California; the City of Austin, Texas; the City of Baltimore, Maryland; the Town of Carrboro, North Carolina; the Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; the City of Chicago, Illinois; the City of Cincinnati, Ohio; the City and County of Denver, Colorado; the District of Columbia; King County, Washington; the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota; the City of Oakland, California; the City of Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; the City and County of San Francisco, California; the City of San Jose, California; the County of San Mateo, California; the City of Seattle, Washington; and the City of Tucson, Arizona.
Copies of the brief are available upon request.
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Posted: February 10, 2017