Adriana Lafaille, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts, today released the following statement in response to the resolution of ACLU client Clayton Gordon’s immigration case:
“We are thrilled that Clayton Gordon’s five-and-a-half-year battle with deportation is finally over, and that he and his family can remain together. At a moment in history marked by cruel and unlawful federal immigration practices, the ACLU remains deeply committed to working to protect our country’s promise as a beacon of liberty for all.”
Clayton Gordon is a lawful permanent resident, U.S. army veteran, business-owner, husband, and father. In 2013, he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and subjected to mandatory detention on the basis of a single drug crime, even though five years had passed since he was released from criminal custody for that crime.
In Gordon v. Napolitano, the ACLU and its partners successfully argued the government could not hold a category of noncitizens in mandatory, no-bond detention while their immigration cases are being resolved. Since 2014, the case has allowed hundreds of people – including Mr. Gordon – to be reunited with their families after showing that they did not pose a danger or flight risk that warranted detention during their immigration proceedings.
In part because of the ACLU’s lawsuit, Mr. Gordon was able to be out on bond while he continued to fight his immigration case. On December 11, 2018, an immigration judge awarded him cancellation of removal, and the Department of Homeland Security did not appeal. The decision ends Mr. Gordon’s long battle with deportation.
The bond-eligibility issue litigated in Gordon v. Napolitano is being considered by the Supreme Court in Nielsen v. Preap, a case argued by the ACLU in October. In Preap, the Supreme Court will consider whether the government is permitted to detain noncitizens with certain criminal convictions during their deportation proceedings without giving them a chance to request bond, regardless of how serious the crime was, how long ago the conviction occurred, or what the immigrant has done with his or her life since that time. The case has ramifications for thousands of people across the country who, like Mr. Gordon, are detained by ICE months or years after their last contact with the criminal justice system.