Javier Martinez Deserves the Right to Challenge Imprisonment by ICE

ACLU National, ACLU SoCal, and CILP file Amicus Brief on his behalf in Martinez v. Clark

September 21, 2022

Los Angeles, CA – This week, the ACLU, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the Center for Immigration Law and Policy (CILP) filed an amicus brief in support of Javier Martinez, a Nicaraguan man whom the federal government has imprisoned for more than four years for a nine-year-old drug offense. Despite Mr. Martinez having served his sentence years ago and living in the U.S. for 40 years, an immigration judge ruled for his continued imprisonment.

To make matters worse, last June, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “an immigration court’s determination that a noncitizen is a danger to the community is a ‘discretionary judgment’ not subject to review,” consigning Mr. Martinez to further indefinite imprisonment.  

Mr. Martinez deserves the right to challenge his prolonged imprisonment by ICE and, as the amicus brief argues, his petition for a rehearing of the immigration judge’s decision should be granted. Among other issues, the amicus brief argues that the panel’s ruling is inconsistent with Rodriguez v. Robbins, in which the Ninth Circuit held that immigration judges must consider alternatives to detention when holding bond hearings for individuals subject to prolonged imprisonment under immigration law. 

“Many aspects of this case should shock people who believe in liberty: that the government would imprison someone for years after their sentence is over; that it would seek to deport someone who has lived here for nearly 40 years; that it would try to send Mr. Martinez to Nicaragua – a country from which he has already won refugee protection and that has become increasingly repressive in recent years,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, CILP Faculty Co-Director. “But worst of all is the ruling by a panel of the Ninth Circuit that no federal court has the power to review whether Mr. Martinez’s continued imprisonment is necessary. We hope the full court will reconsider that disturbing ruling.”  

“People like Javier and me, who have served our time and paid our debt to society for past mistakes, should not be locked up in immigration prison,” said Alex Rodriguez, a Los Angeles father of three whose landmark case won the right for immigrants imprisoned for six months or more to get a bond hearing in which alternatives to detention must be considered. “I’m sad to see that more than 15 years after the government released me from years of jail by ICE, other immigrants are still facing prolonged detention after they finish serving their sentences.” 

To read the amicus brief in its entirety, please click here.  

Founded in 2020, the Center for Immigration Law and Policy (CILP) at the UCLA School of Law expands the law school's role as a national leader in immigration law and policy, generating innovative ideas at the intersection of immigration scholarship and practice and serving as a hub for transforming those ideas into meaningful changes in immigration policy. 

Follow CILP on Twitter, @UCLA_CILP, or sign up for additional news at bit.ly/CILPnews.

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