ACLU sues over high detention fees

A number of immigrants and asylum seekers are given bond to leave detention while they attempt to find a way to legally stay in the United States, enabling them to more easily find legal assistance while also reuniting with family, a policy that immigrant advocates feel is more humane while also less expensive to taxpayers.

However, many people who are given bond are still unable to leave detention because the fee is so high they cannot pay it, the American Civil Liberties Union have alleged in a class action lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday against the US government, including Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.

The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, six pro bono attorneys, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California are responsible for the move. They argue that the bond set by agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and by judges should reflect what the people concerned are actually capable of paying so that immigrants who are not considered flight risks do not have to stay in detention while waiting to get their day in immigration court.

The attorneys and the ACLU allege that continuing to hold people in detention who are unable to pay is not only a form of discrimination, but also in violation of the law. “Such detention violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment,” claims Michael Kaufman, attorney for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.