(CN) – A Mexican immigrant can proceed with a class action claiming he was illegally detained for more than six months during immigration proceedings, the 9th Circuit ruled.
Alejandro Rodriguez filed a class action on behalf of immigrants kept in U.S. custody without a bond hearing while immigration authorities sifted through their cases.
Rodriguez entered the United States as an infant and became a lawful permanent resident when he was 9 years old. He was ordered removed in 2004 based on past drug and theft convictions.
As he appealed the removal order, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials repeatedly refused to release him from custody, citing no other reason than his pending 9th Circuit appeal.
He petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming his detention violated his due-process rights. He also filed a motion for class certification.
In March 2008, U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter dismissed the motions in a two-sentence order.
But the three-judge appellate panel in Pasadena reversed, saying the proposed class members had enough in common to proceed with a class action.
They each challenge their prolonged detention and seek a bond hearing as relief, the court explained.
Senior Judge Fletcher acknowledged that different laws controlling their detentions might affect the individual claims for relief, “but do not alter the fact that relief from a single practice is requested by all class members.”
The judges reversed the lower court’s denial of class certification and remanded.