Latino USA: Lawsuit Accuses ICE of Illegal Detention Before Hearings

A new class-action lawsuit accuses U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of keeping nearly all arrested immigrants locked up instead of releasing them to wait for their court dates. Bronx Defenders and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) partnered on the lawsuit against the agency. ICE is legally mandated to evaluate cases individually and release people who do not pose a threat or a flight risk.

ICE uses an algorithm to determine whether people should be held in detention or let go before their hearing. The lawsuit asks for the algorithm, known as a “Risk Classification Assessment” tool, to be ruled illegal and for detainees to be reassessed individually.

A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the NYCLU found that from 2013 to June 2017, ICE released 47% of those it arrested to wait for their hearings. Between June 2017 and September 2019, the agency only released 3%. ICE declined to comment on the lawsuit, but confirmed it changed its practices in summer 2017 to meet executive demands for stricter enforcement.

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