Lawsuit Challenges Illegal Bond Hearing Practices in Charlotte Immigration Court

Lawsuit Challenges Illegal Bond Hearing Practices in Charlotte Immigration Court

January 18, 2018

Washington, D.C.– In a sharp departure from the practice of immigration courts around the country, immigration judges in North Carolina are refusing to conduct bond hearings for detained immigrants who come before the Charlotte Immigration Court. This unlawful, alarming, and unconscionable practice deprives noncitizens of their basic due process rights. 

In an attempt to help ensure that those individuals have the opportunity to seek bond, the American Immigration Council, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (“CAIR Coalition”), and North Carolina-based Cauley Forsythe Law Group filed a class action lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina challenging this practice, as well as the failure of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to take corrective action. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of individuals in immigration custody in North Carolina or South Carolina who filed requests for bond hearings with the Charlotte Immigration Court, and have been or will be deprived of consideration of the bond motion in Charlotte. 

The lawsuit challenges the practice of three of the four sitting immigration judges in the Charlotte Immigration Court who refuse to conduct bond hearings—even though they are required to do so—and are consequently prolonging the detention of bond-eligible individuals for several weeks. 

“This practice is unlawful and must not continue. Immigration judges cannot refuse to do the jobs that Congress requires them to do. This is yet another example of how immigration court practices may become arbitrary, unjust, and unlawful without proper oversight,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council. “This lawsuit is not asking a court to order the release of noncitizens; it simply asks the court to order these immigration judges to conduct bond hearings to determine whether, and on what conditions, to release a person.” 

Immigrants subject to the Charlotte Immigration Court’s practice are forced to wait until after they are transferred out of the Carolinas before they can file a new bond hearing request. Then, they must wait again for a different immigration court to schedule a new hearing.  

“The Charlotte immigration judges’ refusal to follow the law that requires them to conduct bond hearings is a dereliction of the duty Congress placed on the judges. This practice denies detained noncitizens their basic due process right to a bond hearing,” said David J. Laing, senior attorney at the CAIR Coalition. 

Individuals taken into immigration custody in the Carolinas almost always are transferred to detention centers in remote locations, far from their families and communities, where finding legal representation is more difficult. Those who are forced to proceed in detention without a lawyer are less likely to be released, forcing them to remain locked up for the duration of their deportation cases. 

“Prolonged detention caused by immigration judges refusing to conduct bond hearings harms our community and displaces families. This lawsuit is necessary to ensure that all noncitizens detained in the Carolinas have their bond hearings lawfully conducted when scheduled with the Charlotte immigration court. We want the immigration judges in Charlotte to do their jobs by conducting bond hearings—period,” said North Carolina immigration lawyer Jordan Forsythe Greer, partner at Cauley Forsythe Law Group.

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For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, at [email protected] or 202-507-7526.

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