Salt Lake City joins cities, counties asking U.S. Supreme Court to regulate immigration detention by Feds

New Mayor In Town - Biskupski
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. File photo: Gephardt Daily/Steve Milner/SFMilner8

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced on Monday that Salt Lake City joined 20 cities and counties across the country in an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court, asking the court to uphold constitutional protections for immigrants held in prolonged mandatory immigration detention by the federal government.

The brief, authored by the County of Santa Clara, Calif., and joined by other local governments, was filed in Jennings v. Rodriguez. The brief supports the argument that people in immigration detention awaiting deportation proceedings should not be held, often for months or years at a time, with no opportunity to be considered for release.

The Supreme Court is reviewing a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that immigrants in prolonged mandatory detention must be given a bond hearing every six months where an immigration judge can consider whether they can safely be released based on their individual facts and circumstances.

“This type of prolonged detention puts jobs at risk, creates obstacles to education, and generally hurts families living in our community,” Biskupski said in a prepared statement. “Our nation is bound by principals enshrined in our Constitution, and any time individuals living in our community are not afforded those rights, Salt Lake City will take an interest.”

Counties and cities involved in the amicus brief argue that immigrants held in mandatory detention must be given the same basic constitutional protections granted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government to every person who is arrested for a crime.

The basic rights include a hearing in which a judge can consider each individual for release based on his or her risk of flight and risk to public safety. When immigrants are not given the right to a bond hearing, many who could safely be released remain stuck in federal immigration detention facilities for months or years, costing billions in taxpayer dollars annually.

Margaret Plane, Salt Lake City Attorney, said that holding people in detention for long periods of time denies them due process and costs taxpayers money.

“In Utah, those accused of crimes receive individualized hearings to consider whether they may be released, yet certain groups of immigrants — including those with no criminal record and those entering the country to seek asylum — can be held indefinitely without ever receiving an individualized hearing for consideration of their release,” Plane said. “The City has an interest in laws and policies that protect due process rights and allow for individualized consideration for release. ”

The amicus brief argues that holding immigrants in mandatory detention without bond hearings also harms their children and families, many of whom are U.S. citizens or lawful residents. It claims detention of an immigrant parent deprives families of the parent’s income and associated health benefits, and may lead to loss of housing and food insecurity. Children of detained parents often fall behind in school and suffer from psychological problems.

The cities and counties filing the brief provide critical services to their local residents, and face increased and costly demands for social services when parents are detained, including foster care, health and mental health care, housing assistance, other public assistance, and law enforcement involvement.

Besides Salt Lake City, cities and counties that joined Santa Clara County in the filing include: Alameda (Calif.) County; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Carrboro, N.C.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Denver and Denver (Colo.) County; the District of Columbia; King County, Washington; Minneapolis; Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco and San Francisco County; San Jose, Calif.; San Mateo (Calif.) County; Seattle; and Tucson, Ariz.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here