Think it's illegal to be stuck in jail without bail for 3 years for a misdemeanor? Nope.

Alejandro Rodriguez has lived in the United States. since he was 1 year old. He’s a father now, and until recently, worked as a dental assistant. So why — after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor more than 15 years ago — did it take three years for him to get a bond hearing?

That’s right: Rodriguez wasn’t serving a 3-year sentence. He was simply waiting to see a judge to find out what his bail might be.

Even more suprising? The Supreme Court declared last week that this treatment of him was all perfectly legal.


See, even though Rodriguez is a legal permanent resident, SCOTUS just announced that immigrants — including asylum seekers and green card holders — do not have the right to periodic bond hearings.

The ruling comes from the Jennings v. Rodriguez case, in which Rodriguez was the lead plaintiff. And the whole thing is way more complicated than you’e ever expect.

But let’s back up. Back in 2004, the Department of Homeland Security placed Rodriguez in immigration detention for three years after he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge for drug possession. (In 1998, he was also convicted for “joyriding.”)

And we know how that turned out.

In 2007, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Rodriguez filed a lawsuit stating that he had the right to a bond hearing. In response, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled immigrant detainees do have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. But that ruling was ultimately reversed on Feb. 27, 2018.

In the majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court said that “immigration officials are authorized to detain certain aliens in the course of immigration proceedings while they determine whether those aliens may be lawfully present in the country.”

When the SCOTUS ruling was announced last week, it prompted mass outrage from immigration advocates and progressive political commentators.

But according to two immigration attorneys who spoke with Upworthy, this outsized response is born out of disinformation from media coverage about the case. A big misunderstanding can be pointed to news headlines that suggest the decision could lead to the indefinite detention of immigrants.

According to Diego Aranda Teixeira, an immigration attorney who is administered in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which is where the Jennings v. Rodriguez case will be heard next), the SCOTUS ruling does not allow for immigrants to be detained indefinitely.

“This decision does not make it possible to detain all immigrants forever,” Teixeira says.

The ruling is far more narrow than what has been reported. The Jennings v. Rodriguez case was based on the concern of indiscriminate administrative bond hearings for detained non-citizens with a criminal background.

“Before that, in [the Ninth Circuit], only people who had not been detained at or near the time and place of crossing a border or asking for admission, who were not in categories of people mandatorily detained for certain reasons largely related to criminal history, and who were not detained to enforce an existing removal order, very broadly speaking, you had the right to one bond hearing if detained,” Teixeira added.

In other words, the SCOTUS ruling does not “greenlight” indefinite detention for immigrants.

While Michael Edelman, an attorney based in Philadelphia, believes it is “egregious” to detain people as a “human rights matter,” he agrees with Teixeira’s assessment.

According to Edelman, the decision not apply to all immigrants since a lot of other SCOTUS cases already and explicitly “protect the vast majority of immigrants from indefinite, hearing-less detention.”

“The decision says that certain immigrants can be detained throughout the duration of their immigration proceeds,” Edelman added. “That is all.”

Here’s what happens next.

Well, the Jennings v. Rodriguez case has now gone back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There are several outcomes to this. The Ninth Circuit, which is considered to be quite progressive, could say that denying bond hearings to immigrant detainees is a violation of their constitutional right.

The Ninth Circuit could also propose other solutions for administrative bond hearings on a case by case solution based on the detainees in question.

But for now, the door remains open in finding an answer to the issue of prolonged detention. If the Ninth Circuit comes to a new decision, and has to go back to the Supreme Court, Teixeira says a lot of immigrant detainees who had their bonds are going to remain detained until the new decision is taken or another new lawsuit is filed.

“It would have been far better for SCOTUS to affirm the Ninth Circuit, I feel,” Teixeira added. As of right now, there isn’t much to do to challenge the decision except to wait.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the questions many Americans had when Trump became president was how he would handle LGBTQ rights. Public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted dramatically in the past decade and the Trump administration hasn't publicly signaled a desire to change that. Trump even added an openly gay man to his cabinet, creating somewhat of an appearance of being LGBTQ-friendly.

However, his record with transgender rights betrays that appearance. Transgender people have become a favorite target of conservative politics, and actions taken by Trump himself have been considered discriminatory by LGBTQ advocates.

These actions were highlighted by a mother of a transgender child at Biden's town hall event. Mieke Haeck introduced herself to the former vice president as "a proud mom of two girls, ages 8 and 10," before adding, "My youngest daughter is transgender."

"The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening non-discrimination protections and even removing the word 'transgender' from some government websites," she said, then asked, "How will you as president reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and ensure that the right and lives of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?"

Keep Reading Show less