On August 8, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that immigrants who have been in custody for more than six months are entitled to a bond hearing to determine whether continued detention is warranted. In addition, the Ninth Circuit established that the bond hearings should be granted automatically rather than by the request of the detainee.
According to the Los Angeles Times, attorney Michael Kaufman stated “It's a hugely important ruling for immigrants in detention who now have their first opportunity to seek release on bond. They have a time period now, something to look forward to — they can ask a judge for release and the ability to return to their families and loved ones.”
Prior to the lawsuit, an average of 400-500 detainees were in custody for more than six months while awaiting a hearing. In a handful of situations, detainees were held for more than a year.
It is important to note that this ruling only applies to immigrant detainees in the Ninth Circuit, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. A similar challenge is being brought in the Third Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania).