On June 23, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled in favor of arguments presented in an amicus brief by the Law School's Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) and changed its interpretation of mandatory detention law for immigrants nationwide. In Matter of Garcia-Arreola, the BIA reversed a previous decision that held that, under a 1996 mandatory-detention statute, immigrants with old convictions lose their right to a bond hearing if they pass through the criminal justice system again for any reason. That statute requires detention of resident non-citizens after they are released from custody for certain types of offenses, while the government determines if they are deportable. Now, as a result of this reversal, many immigrants with old convictions will have the opportunity to have a bond hearing and to be released from immigration jail while defending against their deportation.

The IRC has fought for a reversal of the harsh interpretation of the mandatory law for two years, winning a victory for an individual client in the Southern District of New York in 2009 and defending its appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit this year. (An appellate ruling has been held in abeyance pending the decision of the BIA.) The decision in the district court case, Garcia v. Shanahan, was cited by the board in reversing its old interpretation.

The amicus brief in Matter of Garcia-Arreola was written by Jorge Castillo '10 and Meredith Fortin '10, under the supervision of Alina Das '05.  The litigation in Garcia v. Shanahan has involved the work of several NYU Law students and alumni, including Anjali Bhargava '09, Castillo, Sarah Deri-Oshiro '09, Kate Evans '09, and Fortin, under the supervision of Das and Professor of Clinical Law Nancy Morawetz '81. Rachel Goodman '10 and Isaac Wheeler '03 of the Immigrant Defense Project, a national advocacy organization, submitted briefing in the Garcia v. Shanahan case, as well.

Posted July 1, 2010