Guerrero-Sanchez v. Warden York County Prison

Rafael Guerrero-Sanchez was facing deportation to Mexico based upon a decades-old removal order, until an asylum officer found that he had a reasonable fear of persecution by a drug cartel in that country. This finding entitled him to an immigration court proceeding to seek protection from deportation, but while this case was pending U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement jailed him for nearly two years without a bond hearing to justify his detention.

Mr. Guerrero-Sanchez’s attorney filed a federal habeas corpus petition, arguing that he was entitled to a day in court to determine if his detention was justified. The district court held that Mr. Guerrero-Sanchez was entitled to a bond hearing and the federal government appealed. The ACLU of New Jersey and ACLU of Pennsylvania joined a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing in part that Due Process requires a bond hearing after six months of detention.


The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that people seeking protection from removal after a prior deportation, and anyone with a final order of removal who has been detained at least six months, must receive a bond hearing before a neutral adjudicator. It also held that the government bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that continued detention is justified.

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