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The Board of Immigration Appeals issued an important unpublished decision today in a case appealed by partner Helen Parsonage, with an Amicus Brief from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers’ Guild.

For many years, immigrants picked up in North Carolina have been transported via South Carolina to the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Many of those immigrants file motions for bond hearings with the Immigration Court in Charlotte, which typically schedules the hearing two days after the motion is filed. Because of the quick transportation of immigrants out-of-state to Georgia, detainees were often on the way to Georgia before the hearing started, often that very morning. The Immigration Judges in Charlotte routinely declined to hear the bond requests upon learning of the movement, claiming that they had no jurisdiction to do so once the detainee is out of the Carolinas. Detainees often faced many additional days or weeks in custody awaiting a bond hearing as attorneys were made to file all over again in Georgia.

After the Board of Immigration Appeals declined to decide the issue in a number of cases, we filed an appeal for a client who was moved to Georgia the morning of his hearing in Charlotte. We argued that the Immigration Judge in Charlotte did indeed have jurisdiction over the bond hearing even after the detainee was moved and that nothing in the statute stripped the judge of that jurisdiction.

Today the Board agreed.

In a short decision they stated:

Section 236 of the Act contains no language limiting an Immigration Judge’s authority to hear a bond case due to the geographic location of the alien. Rather than outlining the Immigration Court’s jurisdiction, the regulations at 8 C.F.R. 1003.19(c) merely dictate where the alien should file a request for a custody redetermination.”

This one short paragraph means that immigrants picked up in North Carolina will be able to have their bond hearings in Charlotte, close to home, family and counsel.

This one small change will have a profound impact on the lives of those detained, those they love, and those who represent them.

Author Photo

Helen represents clients facing criminal charges in both state and federal court. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel of attorneys in the Middle District of North Carolina, and is admitted to practice before the Eastern, Middle and Western District Federal Courts as well as the Fourth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal.

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