The LA Times has reported that the ACLU and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are violating the constitutional rights of immigrant detainees by failing to make case-by-case determinations of the need for shackling. The lawsuit focuses on conduct in San Francisco, but it has been alleged that "across-the-board" shackling also occurs in Boston, Baltimore, and Chicago.
I can speak to what occurs before the Immigration Court in Buffalo. Female detained immigrants are always shackled when appearing in Court. I can recall one recent instance where I represented an elderly woman with a significant physical disability that was shackled while in Court. She posed to threat to anyone, including herself, and my request to have her shackles removed was denied.
As for the Immigration Court at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, detainees are rarely, if ever shackled.
I am curious to see if this suit results in a change in policy nationwide. We shall wait and see.
Click here for more of the LA Times article.
Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).