ACLU Sues Federal Government Over Poor Immigrants’ Jail Bonds

The ACLU sued the federal government Wednesday for setting “unreasonable” bail amounts for detained immigrants, including a Honduran man who has been locked up in Santa Ana for four years because he cannot post a $3,000 bond.

Cesar Matias, a 37-year-old seeking asylum, is among dozens of jailed immigrants who are too poor to post bonds, according to Michael Tan, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

“At a time when state and federal criminal justice systems are moving to reform the fees and financial constraints that unfairly affect low-income individuals,” Tan says, “the federal government’s immigration detention practices continue to deprive some immigrants of their liberty because they are poor.”

The suit seeks to require the government to apply standards similar to those used in criminal cases when it sets bail bonds for immigrants.

“Poverty or lack of financial resources should not deprive a person of his or her freedom while in civil immigration proceedings,” says Michael Kaufman, a staff attorney with the ACLU SoCal. “Such detention violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Bail Clause and the immigration laws.”

Pro bono attorneys Matthew Sloan, Douglas Smith, Grayce Frink, Devon Hein, Winston Hsiao and Matthew Delgado joined the ACLU SoCal and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project in filing the suit in federal court.

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