- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - More than two-thirds of immigrants held more than six months in the Los Angeles area were deemed eligible for bond once they eventually got a proper hearing before an immigration judge, a report showed on Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California found more than 1,100 immigrants, many who were initially denied bond hearings, were granted bond once a judge heard their request, according to a report released by the group.

The ACLU obtained the data after suing federal immigration authorities to secure bond hearings for immigrants detained more than six months, including those subject to mandatory detention because they had criminal convictions.

“Immigration judges have found that the overwhelming majority of class members should be released on bond or other conditions of release,” the ACLU said in the report. “Thus, their prolonged detention - at great personal cost to themselves and their families and massive financial cost to taxpayers - was unnecessary.”

Newly arriving immigrants caught on the border don’t get bond hearings, nor do immigrants with certain criminal convictions such as drug offenses. As a result, these immigrants remain in detention while their cases wind through the immigration courts system, which can take months.

Since the ACLU’s lawsuit, any immigrant detained more than six months is now entitled to a bond hearing in states covered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The data in the report only covers the Los Angeles area, where the suit was initially filed.

Between October 2012 and April 2014, about 69 percent of 1,680 immigrants covered by the lawsuit in the Los Angeles area won their bond hearings, the report showed. About 69 percent of immigrants for whom data was available posted bond, with bond amounts hovering around a median of $10,000, the report said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had no immediate comment, saying they needed to review the report.

The rights of immigrants to bail hearings came up in another court recently, in a case over a 2006 Arizona law denying bail to immigrants in the country illegally who are charged with certain crimes. In October, a federal appeals court threw out the law, clearing the way for hearings throughout the state.


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