In a move that could affect tens of thousands of detainees, a federal judge in Seattle ordered the U.S. Justice Department to obey a law that allows for the release of some undocumented immigrants without posting a bond, reports the Seattle Times. Immigration-rights leaders say the law is routinely ignored because of a conflicting DOJ policy that requires immigrant detainees to post at least a $1,500 bond regardless of whether they pose a danger or flight risk. “People should not be locked up while they are in immigration proceedings simply because they do not have money to pay a bond,” said Matt Adams of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik certified a lawsuit filed on behalf of one such detainee as a class-action, sweeping in hundreds of plaintiffs who are being detained on immigration holds solely because they cannot post bonds. Adams said that while Lasnik's ruling now only affects about 500 undocumented immigrants held in Western Washington. the DOJ policy affects tens of thousands of detainees nationally. “We are hopeful this ruling will have an impact,” on a practice that has been in place for 15 years, he said. “This is a national problem.”