WASHINGTON, DC—The American Immigration Council, other immigrant rights organizations, and legal service providers filed a friend-of-the-court (or amicus) brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the justices to find that immigrants who seek humanitarian protection from removal should have access to bond hearings—instead of being subjected to mandatory detention.
The brief was filed in Pham v. Guzman Chavez, which focuses on which of two provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act applies to detained immigrants with prior removal orders who are seeking withholding of removal—which is akin to asylum—and are waiting to argue their case before an immigration judge.
The government has invoked one provision to argue that mandatory detention applies because, in their view, the removal order is “administratively final.” Lawyers for the individuals seeking protection invoked the second provision to argue that access to bond hearings applies because a decision on whether an individual actually will be removed remains pending.
This issue is before the Supreme Court, after lower courts across the country have reached different conclusions regarding which of the two provisions should apply. Now the Supreme Court must decide which interpretation applies for the country as a whole.
The brief, filed in support of access to bond hearings, argues that “a decision on whether removal will occur under a reinstated removal order remains pending and is not administratively final until the government ensures our nation’s moral and geopolitical commitments will not be broken.” Decades ago, U.S. law adopted international principles protecting individuals from being returned to countries where they fear persecution or torture. For those who have established that they have a reasonable fear of such persecution, they cannot be removed under U.S. law until those claims are resolved.
The brief shares the stories of eight immigrants in withholding of removal proceedings to provide context for the court on the critical need to protect those who have been persecuted and to highlight the harms of mandatory detention.