Immigration authorities are beginning a new policy that would limit the use of shackles on immigrants when they appear before an immigration judge. Thanks to a class action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), immigrants will only be shackled at a certain type of procedural hearing, but the majority of their court appearances will not have their hands confined.
The settlement occurred in California and applies only to the San Francisco court, however, immigrant rights supporters are hoping more courts nationwide will implement this policy. Immigration officials have recognized that conditions vary by state and there is no “one-size-fits-all” nationwide policy, but for a California court that serves over 2,000 immigrants a year in ICE custody, the policy will apply right away.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit in 2011 where detainees at the San Francisco court would wear metal restraints on their wrists, ankles and waists while being bused to several different jails. Because many of these jails were hours away, they would have to sit on the bus confined in shackles. The ACLU believes this is unacceptable treatments of immigrants and an extreme measure for individuals who do not pose a threat.
According to the settlement, the detainees will no longer have to be restrained on the way to their hearings “unless they pose a safety threat or risk of escape.” ICE is receiving a positive response for accepting the change and released a statements saying it was “committed to preserving the dignity and welfare of all those in our custody…”
ICE will further be working with courts in order to ensure they meet all the new guidelines. With the agency housing over 30,000 immigrants in detention facilities nationwide and dealing with far more, making sure that they are treating the people who go through their system in a humane way is important in keeping the process both moral and safe.
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