It feels like immigration detention should be a short-term solution while authorities decide how to proceed. In reality, it’s often anything but short, leaving people behind bars for years with no idea how their stories will play out.
For example, one man was locked up for nine years and four months. Most terms don’t last that long, but it’s certainly possible.
It’s also fairly common, even for those who do not wind up getting deported. According to federal records running from 2000 to 2017, over 250,000 immigrants were put behind bars before ultimately being told they were allowed to stay in the United States.
Some have been critical of this practice and the mandatory laws that mean some have to be jailed and are never given a bond hearing. They have called it “lawlessness” and the Supreme Court is looking into whether or not the practice can continue.
In some states, it’s been argued that the process should simply be altered so that bond hearings are scheduled roughly twice per year. At those hearings, if officials could show there was some risk in allowing the individual to go free, he or she could remain in detention. But this would at least force the government to consider the cases and prove that detention was needed, rather than simply leaving people behind bars for years without any sort of resolution or a hearing to plead their cases.
It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court decides and how laws may be altered going forward and it’s important for immigrants to keep a close eye on these proceedings so that they know their rights.
Source: The Daily Beast, “‘Lawlessness’ in Immigration Jails for 250,000 Detainees Finally Allowed to Remain in America,” Paul Moses, Jan. 14, 2018