Lawsuit Challenges Automatic Immigration Lock-Ups

Even minor charges from long ago can get immigrants tossed in the slammer


Garfield Gayle, a 59-year-old green card holder from Jamaica, has lived in the United States for 30 years. He raised two U.S. citizen daughters, and has long worked as a union carpenter in Brooklyn, New York.

Nearly eight months ago, when federal agents put him in handcuffs at his home, he learned that the government was trying to deport him based on an alleged attempted drug sale offense that happened more than 17 years ago. Since then, the government has held him in mandatory immigration lock-up without any opportunity for a bail hearing. The government has never even alleged that he poses any danger or flight risk.  In addition, Mr. Gayle's long residence in the United States and close family ties make him a strong candidate for immigration relief from a judge, allowing him to keep his green card and stay in this country.