In just a few hours, I’ll be arguing a critical case at the Supreme Court. Jennings v. Rodriguez will decide the fate of thousands of women and men who are languishing in immigration prisons across the country. It’s important – and I want to make sure you know what’s at stake.
At issue is the federal government’s practice of locking up immigrants who are challenging their deportation without the basic due process of a hearing to determine if their imprisonment is justified. Imprisoning people without a hearing is unconstitutional and un-American. We’ll prove that today in court.
This case is personal for me. I come from a family of immigrants. I was born here, but my parents are Sri Lankan Tamils. When civil war broke out in Sri Lanka, our extended family fled to live with us in the U.S and I saw first-hand the pain of displacement.
I think people looking at our immigrants’ rights work often don’t take the time to put themselves in the shoes of the people we represent. Many of our clients in this case are asylum-seekers, who have come to this country fleeing persecution from abroad. Others have lived here for decades. All deserve the basic humanity we grant American citizens.
Take our lead plaintiff, Alejandro Rodriguez. Alex was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents as a baby. He grew up here, became a lawful permanent resident, and worked as a dental assistant to support his three children. He ran into legal trouble and was convicted of a minor drug possession offense. But since he was not a citizen, instead of being sent to a drug treatment program, Alex was imprisoned by immigration authorities for more than three years without ever receiving a bond hearing.
Through this case we got him out. Alex went on to win his immigration case and keep his lawful permanent resident status. He’ll never get back those three years away from his family, but he’s taking his fight to the Supreme Court to win justice for other immigrants. I’m proud to represent him, along with thousands of green card-holders and asylum-seekers locked up without due process.
That’s what I’m fighting for today. This case began ten years ago. It’s been a long road, and we’re finally here.
Thanks for your support,
Legal Director at the ACLU of Southern California