Settlement Negotiations Begin in Landmark Case Against Indefinite Detention of Immigrants

Biden Administration becomes first administration to initiate settlement talks in Rodriguez v. Jennings, after a 15 year-long battle to stop ICE.

June 6, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA – Yesterday, after 15 years of litigation, including two arguments before the Supreme Court and four before the Ninth Circuit, the Biden Administration and class counsel will begin formal settlement negotiations in Rodriguez v. Jennings, the landmark class-action lawsuit that successfully challenged ICE’s practice of jailing noncitizens for long and indefinite periods of time without a bond hearing.   

Over the years, attorneys from the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford Law, the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, and the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law (CILP) won not only the release of lead plaintiff Alex Rodriguez, but also drastic limitations on ICE’s power to indefinitely jail immigrants without due process. Their litigation created “Rodriguez Hearings” and other protections guaranteeing that thousands of immigrants detained for longer than six months could ask a judge for release on bond while their immigration cases remained pending.  

The federal government, however, has consistently challenged these victories and sought to restore ICE’s power to detain noncitizens in immigration prison without due process. But that position may now be changing, as the Biden Administration has become the first administration to participate in formal settlement talks in Rodriguez v. Jennings

“Alex Rodriguez is an unsung hero of the immigrants’ rights movement: If it weren't for his bravery, ICE would still be able to detain noncitizens indefinitely in immigration prisons without the right to see a judge and ask for their release” said CILP Faculty Co-Director Ahilan Arulanantham and lead counsel in Rodriguez v. Jennings. “We hope the Biden Administration listens and learns from Alex’s story, and that its decision to initiate these settlement negotiations represents a true change of course. ICE should not have the power to strip away people’s rights to due process and imprison them indefinitely.”

Lead plaintiff Alex Rodriguez, a lawful-permanent resident who has lived in Los Angeles since he was one year old, and was recently featured in CILP’s Immigration Prison: Hard Questions About Abolition, was jailed in San Pedro Detention Center for three and a half years without the opportunity to ask a judge to reunite him with his family while he appealed his deportation order—an appeal he eventually won. The class members on whose behalf he fought had spent an average of 421 days in immigration prison without the right even to ask a judge if they could be released on bond.

"I spent three and a half years in immigration prison separated from my family and unable to provide for them. The only way I could get out was to let them deport me to Mexico, a country my parents left when I was one year old,” said Alex Rodriguez, lead plaintiff in Rodriguez v. Jennings.  “Until I was jailed in immigration prison, I didn’t know that in the United States, you could be put in prison without a lawyer, without a chance to ask a judge for release, and without an end date. This practice is cruel and unfair. I hope the Biden Administration uses these settlement talks to ensure that no one goes through what I did, and that everyone has access to fair hearings and a chance for release.”  

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

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