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Federal Appeals Court Sides With Mintz, ACLU in Challenging Bond Procedures for Detained Immigrants

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit confirmed that immigration courts in New England can no longer detain certain immigrants in bond hearings without the government providing proof that they need to be detained.

The decision affirms a key holding in a landmark class action filed in 2019 by Mintz and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) affiliates in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which ended the government’s detention by default practice throughout New England. In the lawsuit, a Boston federal judge ruled that the government’s practice of detaining certain immigrants by default violated both due process and the Administrative Procedure Act. The ruling held that class members in New England are entitled to bond hearings at which the government bears the burden of justifying an immigrant’s detention, among other requirements. The Trump administration appealed the class action victory in 2020.

“For 20 years, immigration authorities systematically jailed people in violation of their constitutional right to due process of law,” said Dan McFadden, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “This new decision confirms that the federal court in Boston correctly put an end to two decades of flawed proceedings in the immigration courts that unlawfully deprived countless people of their liberty. Thousands of immigrants throughout New England have already benefited from this class action victory, and we are gratified that the court’s declaration will continue to protect many more people for years to come.”

“The government’s systemic violations of due process in the detention of noncitizens accused of being in the country illegally ran afoul of the U.S. constitution for years,” said Mathilda McGee-Tubb, an attorney with Mintz. “Since this first-of-its-kind class action victory, immigrants now have access to a fairer proceeding to determine whether they can remain in their communities while their removal proceedings are ongoing.”

The Mintz pro bono team includes Members Susan Finegan and Susan Cohen, Special Counsel Andrew Nathanson, and Associates Mathilda McGee-Tubb, Ryan Dougherty and Audrey McQuade.