The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (Lawyers’ Committee), and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR) filed a class action suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) on behalf of adult immigration detainees, all of whom appear in immigration court shackled at the wrists, waist, and ankles, regardless of their history or capacity for disruption.
“Freedom from physical restraint during court proceedings has been recognized since the eighteenth century as a fundamental right. But you don’t have to be a scholar to know that shackling a woman in belly chains and leg irons for passing a bad check is unnecessary and inhumane,” said Julia Harumi Mass, Staff Attorney for the ACLU-NC. “Physical restraints are meant for those who pose significant risk to themselves or others. Shackling immigrant detainees in court violates the law and core American values of fair and decent treatment for all persons. There’s a big difference between Hannibal Lecter and your neighbor’s nanny.”
All adult detainees are shackled for the duration of immigration court proceedings in San Francisco. There are no existing legal channels to challenge application of the practice based on individual risk level, potential for flight or medical care needs. People are held in immigration detention for a variety of reasons, including because they could not raise the money to post bond, ICE or court officials believe they pose a flight risk or other possible danger, detention is mandatory under federal immigration law, or they are not eligible for bond because they have committed a crime of “moral turpitude,” such as passing a bad check.