Federal Court Rules in Favor of Immigrant Detainees in Surprising Decision

In a surprise decision, Federal Judge Sylvia Rambo of the Middle District of PA changed the face of the mandatory detention statute for immigrants convicted of crimes and gave them the opportunity to seek bond during deportation proceedings.
By: Baurkot & Baurkot
 
Aug. 7, 2010 - PRLog -- EASTON, Pa., Aug. 7  -- In a strongly worded decision that protects the rights of alien detainees arrested by Immigration & Customs Enforcement ("ICE") years after a criminal conviction, Judge Sylvia Rambo of the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted relief requested by Christian Gonzalez, a Permanent Resident, of Philadelphia, through her attorneys at Baurkot & Baurkot, a leading immigration and deportation law firm with office in Pennsylvania, New Jersey & New York (www.nationalimmigrationlawyers.com).

In 2009, Gonzalez pled guilty to several drug offenses. She served only one day in prison, due to her extensive cooperation with several government agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration. Eleven months later, after she ceased cooperating with the DEA because she feared for her life, deportation proceedings were commenced against Gonzalez and she was arrested by ICE.  She was arrested in January of 2010--almost a year after she was released from federal criminal custody.

The habeas petition challenged Section 236(c) of the INA, which requires mandatory detention of potentially deportable aliens due to prior criminal convictions and prevents the aliens from securing bond throughout the deportation process--a process that could take years. Judge Rambo ruled that Section 236(c) requires ICE to act promptly in enforcing deportation laws. Rather than wait years and then force the alien into mandatory custody pending the outcome of their deportation proceedings, ICE should act quickly so that futures are not destroyed. Judge Rambo noted that "plain meaning of the statute provides that Section 236(c) only applies to aliens detained immediately after release from custody . . . not to aliens released eleven months earlier." The statute plainly states that ICE can take an alien into custody only "when" the alien is released from criminal custody.

"Gonzalez was not challenging mandatory detention or commencement of deportation proceedings decades after a conviction. The petition asked the Court to apply the plain meaning of the statute," said Raymond Lahoud, one of Baurkot's immigration specialists. "The Court protected the intent of Congress as plainly written and preserved Congress' belief that the indefinite detention of aliens years after their conviction is un-American," stated Lahoud.

Partner, George Baurkot, noted that "many times, people commit crimes and serve their time; but, they move on. Then, years later, ICE is at their doors ready to hold them indefinitely, forgetting that these good people have built new lives," said Baurkot, "this victory protects the rights of people to live without fear of future persecution and it prevents the government from procrastinating when enforcing its own laws."

Rather than grant Gonzalez immediate release from ICE custody, Judge Rambo ordered the Immigration Court located in York, Pennsylvania to hold an independent bond hearing.  Gonzalez was released days later on $7,500.00 bail.

"This is a win for all of America.  They [ICE] held me for seven months.  They took me buy surprise when they arrested me," said Gonzalez, "I did so much for the federal government and when I stopped, they brought immigration proceedings against me.  They would not let me out.  I'm glad that Judge Rambo ruled in the interest of fairness."

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Baurkot & Baurkot is a leading immigration and deportation law firm with offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey & New York. More information can be found on the Firm's website: www.nationalimmigrationlawyers.com.
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