Immigrants facing deportation could be granted bond hearings in a move that could release several thousand people from jails and slow the pace of deportations. The Obama administration is considering a proposal to allow judges to grant bond in the cases of immigrants in prolonged detention. Immigrant rights groups say the bond hearings could slow the pace of deportations because the cases of detained immigrants are often expedited. Activists say that granting bond hearings will make the deportation process more fair by allowing detained immigrants to see a judge and have their day in court.
A California court decision now requires immigration agents to involve a judge only when a person has been detained for longer than six months. Obama has been criticized heavily by immigrant rights groups for overseeing a record number of deportations. Many of those deported, activists say, would be eligible for legal status under the immigration bill that passed the Senate but stalled in the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Since hope of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform seems to be dimming, the administration is looking to make small administrative changes that would reduce the number of deportations in the short term. The Department of Homeland Security is also looking at deportation policies to make them more humane.
Will granting bond hearings make the deportation process more fair or will it only slow the pace of deportations that would have been granted anyway? How will the system track those facing deportation while they are out on bond? Should the Obama administration make changes to the deportation process without the approval of Congress?
Claudia Valenzuela, associate director of litigation for the National Immigrant Justice Center. She represents non-citizens before the Department of Homeland Security.
Mark Krikorian, Executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies