Immigrant Grandmother Gets Hearing After a Year and a Half Behind Bars

Due process, how do it work?


This week a federal judge ordered a bond hearing for a woman who has been detained without due process by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for nearly a year and a half. Bertha Mejia, a grandmother with deep family ties in California and with no violent criminal history, was classified by ICE as a "mandatory detainee" because of misdemeanor convictions for stealing groceries. That classification made her ineligible for a hearing before an immigration judge where she could present evidence that she posed no danger to the community or risk of flight—even as her immigration case dragged on for months with no end in sight.

The victory is the result of a petition the ACLU of Northern California and Ms. Mejia's immigration attorney, Rosy Cho, filed in federal court in early February. The ruling recognizes that Ms. Mejia never should have been in mandatory lock-up in the first place, and should have received a prompt bond hearing to determine if she needed to be detained.