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.

More
Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Last month, the Chicago Public Library system became the largest in the country to eliminate late fees thanks to Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

While the move, which was implemented October 1, was intended to "remove unfair barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons," it had another positive outcome. Since the removal of overdue fees, along with the elimination of any outstanding charges on people's accounts, libraries across the city saw a surge in the return of overdue books over the last several weeks.

"The amount of books returned has increased by 240 percent…We're very, very happy to have that. … Those books have a value and cost money to buy. We want those assets back. We also want the patron to come back," Library Commissioner Andrea Telli said at a City Council budget hearing, the Chicago-Sun Times reports.

According to a press release from Lightfoot, late fees rarely have the impact they're intended to. "Research from other fine-free systems has indicated that fines do not increase return rates, and further that the cost of collecting and maintaining overdue fees often outweighs the revenue generated by them."

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

We all know that social media can be a cesspool of trolly negativity, but sometimes a story comes along that totally restores your faith in the whole thing. Enter the KFC proposal that started off being mocked and ended up with a swarm of support from individuals and companies who united to give the couple an experience to remember.

Facebook user Tae Spears shared the story with screenshots from Twitter, and the response has been overwhelming.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / ESPN

Madison Square Garden in New York City is known for having hosted some legendary performances. George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in '71, Billy Joel's 12 sellouts in '06, and Carmelo Anthony's 62 points in a 2014 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats, just to name a few.

But it's hard to imagine one person holding the legendary arena in the palm of their hand quite like Pete DuPré, better known as "Harmonica Pete," did on Veterans Day.

Keep Reading Show less
popular