ACLU of Maryland report criticizes 'no-bail detention' of immigrants

Immigrants in Maryland convicted of crimes are being unfairly imprisoned during removal proceedings, a new report says.

The report, released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland on Thursday, said detention practices during deportation trials are "costly" and "excessive."


Many of those detained have green cards, families and jobs in the United States, the report said, and were convicted of minor crimes.

"The current system of mandatory detention is heavily stacked against immigrants who have ever made any mistake, and unnecessarily and unlawfully results in the detention of many who should be eligible for bond," Sirine Shebaya, a civil rights lawyer and one of the report's authors, said in a statement.


The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency "makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with U.S. law and [Department of Homeland Security] policy," Sarah Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency, said in response to the report.

"ICE focuses its enforcement resources on the removal of criminal aliens and other individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security," she added.

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The report studied the cases of 96 immigrants in Maryland whom the agency held without bail during deportation trials in 2013.

The subjects included lawful permanent residents who were convicted of misdemeanors like shoplifting and drug offenses, according to the report. Yet some were detained without bail for months or years.

The report said that those detained without bail have not been shown to pose a greater threat of flight than others arrested by the immigration agency.

"Mandatory detention undermines even ICE's own assessment of flight and safety risk, by forcing the detention of individuals who are unlikely to flee and who have strong community ties in the United States," said Robert Koulish, a professor at the University of Maryland and the report's other author.

The report calls on the government to only hold immigrants without bail when they are very likely to be deported, and to keep detention periods short.