Maryland Unconstitutional Immigration Detention Class Action
Case Type: Public Interest Litigation
Defendant: Several federal agencies and Maryland-based detention centers
UPDATE: A federal court has ruled the Trump administration must provide fair hearings for people in immigration detention and requires the government to justify detention at a bond hearing. The ruling also requires immigration judges to consider people’s financial circumstances when setting bond amounts and forms of release.
Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class action suit in federal court in the District of Maryland challenging unconstitutional bond hearing policies and practices of the Baltimore Immigration Court that lead to the arbitrary detention of noncitizens. The current COVID-19 crisis makes the situation increasingly dangerous and a remedy even more urgently necessary. The complaint was filed on behalf of Marvin Dubon Miranda, Ajibade Thompson Adegoke, and Jose de la Cruz Espinoza, who are all currently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Maryland while their removal proceedings are pending, and a class of similarly situated immigrants.
The class action complaint was filed by attorneys in Sanford Heisler Sharp's Baltimore office, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Maryland Foundation, and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. The complaint alleges that during bond hearings before the Baltimore Immigration Court, the government violates the constitutional rights of detainees when it requires that a detainee, rather than the government, bear the burden of proving that they are not a flight risk or a danger to the community in order to be freed. The complaint also alleges that the government’s failure to consider detainees’ ability to pay or alternative conditions of release when setting money bond violates the Constitution’s Due Process Clause as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and leads to unnecessary detentions.
“Placing the burden of proof on the individual, rather than on the government, turns well-established norms of due process on their head,” said Deborah K. Marcuse, Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp's Baltimore office and co-chair of the Firm’s Title VII practice. “Beyond that, locking up noncitizens because they cannot pay exorbitant bonds destroys families and needlessly burns through taxpayer money.”
The complaint also details the devastating consequences of these unconstitutional policies and practices for the spouses and children of detainees, cut off from their loved ones and deprived of the often critical emotional and financial support the detained parent or spouse provided. The material and human toll of the government’s unlawful bond hearing policies and practices is exponentially worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Detention facilities have come under increased scrutiny as ‘hot spots’ for COVID-19, and rightfully so,” says Marcuse. “In the coronavirus era, deficient bond hearings threaten individuals and families with serious illness and death.”