The ACLU of Massachusetts, together with the ACLU of New Hampshire, filed a class action lawsuit in June 2019 challenging the government’s practice of denying due process to detained immigrants.

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of immigrants who are currently jailed due to flawed detention hearings in which the detainee was required to bear the burden of proof. The named plaintiffs in the case include a Massachusetts man who lives with his U.S. citizen wife and three young children, a New Hampshire dairy farmer, and a New Hampshire man who fled Haiti to escape political violence.

The government’s practice runs contrary to multiple federal court decisions holding that such a procedure is unlawful. Under the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot take away any person’s liberty without showing that is necessary to do so. During immigration proceedings, however, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) routinely holds people in jail for long periods of time without ever being required to make such a showing. Instead, immigrants are jailed until they can prove that they should not be detained by showing that they are not a danger and not a flight risk.

The result is a vast civil detention apparatus for people who are merely accused of being subject to deportation and who often have lawful pathways to remain in the United States. The ACLU argues that without class-wide relief, the government will continue to deny fundamental due process to immigrants detained in Massachusetts or otherwise receiving a bond hearing in the Boston immigration court.

On August 6, 2019, a federal judge certified the ACLU’s case as a class action lawsuit. As a result, the court can ensure due process for potentially thousands of current and future detainees in New England.

 

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Photo: Gilberto Pereira Brito's three children during his detention. Courtesy of the Pereira Brito family.

Attorney(s)

Adriana Lafaille, Dan McFadden, and Matthew Segal (ACLU of MA); Gilles Bissonnette, Henry Klementowicz, and SangYeob Kim (ACLU of NH); Michael Tan (ACLU); Susan M. Finegan, Susan Cohen, Andrew Nathanson, Mathilda S. McGee-Tubb, and Ryan Dougherty (Mintz)

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