In California 200 to 300 immigrants are being held unlawfully in jail because of a simple misinterpretation of the law. Some of these immigrants are being held because they are in the U.S. illegally, while others are being held because of crimes they committed years ago. All of them are facing possible deportation. The misinterpretation concerns the immigrants’ rights in terms of applying for bail, and up until recently, they have not been given their right. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has ruled that a 1996 federal law allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest those that are being released from state custody, and hold them without bond for six months. But this is only if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests them immediately after being released from state custody. If the person has been released, and then Immigration and Customs Enforcement tries to arrest them at a later date, the immigrant is eligible for bond immediately. Most of these immigrants are being held for crimes that they committed many years ago, and are clearly protected by the law to have the right to apply for bail.
Even though these immigrants are now being given their right to apply for bail, it does not guarantee that they will get it. They have to persuade a judge that they will not flee, and are not a threat to the public. Stacy Chen, a lawyer for the immigrants in the class-action law suit, stated, “The court rightly acknowledged that not even the government is above the law, and cannot deny bond hearings to individuals who are plainly entitled to them.”