The Florence Project is deeply saddened and disturbed by Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling, in the case of Guzman-Chavez, that the government can indefinitely detain some immigrants with no eligibility for bond.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer points out that immigrants impacted by this ruling often spend well over a year waiting for an order on their case. Our experience working with thousands of individuals detained in Arizona ICE facilities bears this out. The government can now hold people for the duration of their immigration cases in punitive detention conditions for years without ever letting them receive a bond hearing where a neutral judge can make an individualized determination as to whether they pose any danger or flight risk.
People impacted by this ruling have already passed “reasonable fear” screenings showing that their fear of likely persecution and torture if they’re deported to their home countries is legitimate. We should grant all asylum-seeking individuals the opportunity to pursue humanitarian relief outside of immigration detention. Most people seeking humanitarian relief have sponsors and loved ones eager to care for them. Leaving people locked up without access to a bond hearing is cruel and inhumane.
Recent studies show that asylum seekers released from detention to pursue their claims attend immigration court hearings in the vast majority of cases, with appearance rates nearing 100 percent when individuals are also represented by counsel. Beyond being punitive and cruel, the United States’ immigration detention system results in billions of taxpayer dollars being needlessly diverted to keep noncitizens locked up when they could be supporting themselves in the community.
We encourage Congress to correct this cruel and unnecessary policy. Let people fleeing persecution live freely while waiting for their day in court.