On February 27th, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a long-awaited opinion in the case of Jennings v. Rodriguez. Sadly, the Supreme Court’s decision delivers a serious blow to immigrant rights. The nation’s highest court has overturned a Ninth Circuit decision that established an end to indefinite detention in immigration facilities. In this post, our experienced Los Angeles immigration lawyers offer an analysis of this case.
Case Analysis: Jennings v. Rodriguez
Background and Facts
Alejandro Rodriguez was brought to California as a young child. As a teenager he was arrested for joyriding. A few year later, in 2007, Mr. Rodriguez was charged with a misdemeanor drug possession offense. Based on these two minor legal violations, U.S. immigration officials initiated deportation proceedings. As is often the case with U.S. immigration actions, the process moved at a slow pace. Shockingly, Mr. Rodriguez was detained by immigration officials for three years without a hearing. Eventually, he was simply released from custody.
Ninth Circuit Decision
The primary issue at stake in this case is whether or not Mr. Rodriguez, and immigrants who find themselves in similar circumstances, have the right to a bond hearing. During a bond hearing, a judge will decide if a person can be released from custody while their case is being decided.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the immigrants, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In its opinion, the Ninth Circuit stated that the U.S. government must provide individualized bond hearings to detained immigrants at least once every six months.
Supreme Court Decision
In a 5 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court overturned that Ninth Circuit ruling. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself due to her prior work on the case for the Obama Administration. The majority opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by all members of the court’s conservative majority.
Jennings v. Rodriguez is an unfortunate decision. Though, the ultimate implications are still unclear. Notably, the decision was narrow. While the Supreme Court struck down the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that an individualized bond hearing must be granted every six months, the court did not directly address whether or not indefinite detention in an immigration facility is unconstitutional.
It is likely that a similar case will go before the Supreme Court again in the future. As a moral issue, change needs to happen. Policymakers in Washington, DC have the power to reform our immigration laws to immediately end indefinite detention. It is outrageous that a person could be held in a detention facility for multiple years, waiting on the U.S. government to take action.
Contact Our California Immigration Attorneys Today
At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our top-rated Los Angeles immigration lawyers have extensive experience helping to get immigrants released from custody. If you or a loved one needs immigration law advice in Southern California, please call our law firm today at (213) 262-2000 to arrange a fully private review of your case.