A.G. Schneiderman, Six Other State Attorneys General File U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief, Seeking Protections For Non-Citizens Detained By The Federal Government

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

February 10, 2017

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NEW YORK—New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman joined six other state Attorneys General today in filing an amicus brief  in the U.S. Supreme Court  in Jennings  v. Rodriguez, a case involving the federal government’s authority to detain non-citizens pending completion of their removal proceedings. The brief was signed by Attorneys General from California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The plaintiffs in this case are non-citizens who have been detained by federal authorities for longer than six months. They argue that the Constitution requires them to receive the same basic protection provided to others who are detained by the federal government:  a hearing to determine whether their continued detention is justified. The plaintiffs do not dispute the government’s right to detain individuals who are dangerous or pose a flight risk; they are only asking for an opportunity to be released on bond if the government cannot show that they present such a danger. 

“Ending the prolonged detention of non-citizens who don’t pose a real risk is common sense policy that will result in stronger and safer communities,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Who we’re talking about here are neighbors, co-workers, and other key members of our society – and their prolonged, unnecessary detention undermines our families, our economies, and our states. I’m proud to join Attorney General Becerra and our colleagues in fighting for the constitutional rights and protections for all who are entitled to them.”

“No one should be detained for months without being assessed first for his or her actual flight risk or dangerousness. That's why I've joined six states on behalf of Californians opposing the detention of non-citizens who have never been found to pose a threat,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Mothers and fathers are detained who cannot return home to their children; others are simply missing work. Their absences could have long-term impact on families, communities, states and the country.” 

In the brief, the States argue that they have a strong interest in ensuring that individuals who are neither dangerous nor a flight risk are not detained while they seek to establish a legal right to remain in the United States. The brief highlights the significant contributions that these individuals make to society as heads of families, employees, and community stakeholders and describes the human, economic, and societal loss caused by prolonged and unnecessary detention. It also argues that the basic procedural protections the plaintiffs seek are consistent with the procedures that the Supreme Court requires before a State may detain a person for other reasons, such as mental illness. Finally, the brief emphasizes that these protections will make sure that their residents are protected from arbitrary detentions by the federal government.

Earlier this week Attorney General Schneiderman led a group of 18 Attorneys General in filing an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals against President Trump’s immigration executive order, and a group of 17 Attorney General who filed a brief in the Virginia lawsuit. Attorney General Schneiderman also filed suit against the order in the Eastern District of New York.

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.