On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled against immigrants seeking release from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration prisons in two important opinions. In Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez, No. 19-896, the Court held that federal statutes do not require the federal government to grant bond hearings to immigrants in detention if they have already been ordered to be deported. In Garland v. Aleman Gonzalez, No. 20-322, the Court held that lower courts may not consider issuing injunctive relief to classes of people challenging immigration detention and removal policies, which creates a major hurdle for immigrants.
“These disappointing decisions continue a troubling pattern of foreclosing important protections for immigrant survivors,” said Richard Caldarone, Senior Litigation Counsel for the Tahirih Justice Center. “The opinion in Aleman Gonzalez cuts off the ability of classes of vulnerable immigrants to enforce their basic rights and restrain the government from violating its own laws. And it reaches that deeply unjust result by accepting the nonsensical view that a court order stopping the government from violating a federal law interferes with that law’s operation.”
Class-wide injunctions are an essential mechanism that enables immigrants to protect their rights. Without them, each immigrant survivor must individually seek counsel willing to take on complex and protracted federal court litigation at a reduced cost—an extremely difficult task, especially for people held in remote DHS immigration prisons. Survivors who are unable to find counsel face serious barriers, including a lack of familiarity with overly complex U.S. asylum laws and language access challenges. As Justice Sotomayor noted in her dissent in Aleman Gonzalez, the Court’s opinion “leave[s] many vulnerable noncitizens unable to protect their rights.”
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The Tahirih Justice Center is a national, nonprofit organization that serves immigrant survivors of gender-based violence. By amplifying the experiences of survivors in communities, courts, and Congress, Tahirih’s mission is to create a world in which all people share equal rights and live in safety and with dignity.