Murray Osorio Fighting for Bond Hearings for Applicants for Withholding of Removal

Murray Osorio PLLC is fighting for bond hearings for noncitizens in “Withholding of Removal Proceedings.” We made significant progress towards that goal on Friday, when a U.S. District Court judge signaled that she is leaning towards agreeing with our arguments.

This class action case is being prosecuted by a skillful team of litigators that also includes Mayer Brown LLP, The Legal Aid Justice Center, Yacub Law Office, Calderon Seguin PLC, and Immigrants First PLLC. We are asking the District Court to order the government to provide bond hearings for all noncitizens in “Withholding of Removal Proceedings” who are detained in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas. This includes over 40 detained noncitizens.

“Withholding of Removal Proceedings” are instituted against noncitizens who are deported, illegally reenter the United States, and fear being persecuted or tortured if they are returned to their home countries. If a noncitizen establishes that he has a reasonable fear of persecution or torture, he is placed into “Withholding of Removal Proceedings.” In these proceedings, he can apply for withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture. These proceedings operate as an exception to the general rule because most people who are deported and illegally reenter are immediately deported again.

Winning either withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture is very challenging. Winning withholding of removal requires the noncitizen to convince an immigration judge that it is more likely than not (greater than a 50% chance) that he will be persecuted in his home country on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group. Winning protection under the Convention Against Torture requires the person to convince an immigration judge that he will more likely than not be tortured in his home country with the participation or acquiescence of a public official.

Withholding of removal proceedings can last a long time, even for noncitizens who are detained in ICE custody. I am representing one person who has been detained in withholding of removal proceedings for over 14 months. Being detained drastically reduces someone’s chance of success. Many people cannot find a lawyer or gather evidence from overseas while they are detained. Losing a case that should be won means a noncitizen will be sent back to his home country to face persecution, torture, and possible death. Thus, detention during withholding of removal proceedings can be a matter of life or death.

The traditional view is that people in withholding of removal proceedings are not eligible for bond during their proceedings and must be detained unless ICE decides to release them. But in 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that noncitizens in withholding of removal proceedings are in fact eligible for bond hearings. We are fighting to bring that rule to Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and the Carolinas—the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral argument on October 24 in a separate case involving the same issue, which is being handled by Mayer Brown LLP, The Legal Aid Justice Center, and Murray Osorio PLLC. Even if we establish the right to bond hearings, no one will be released from detention overnight: each person must still file a bond motion with an immigration court and convince a judge that he is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.

Murray Osorio PLLC is honored to be a part of the dedicated team of professionals fighting for the rights of detained noncitizens in withholding of removal proceedings.

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