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Individuals May Not Be Held Solely for Immigration Detainers in MA!

July 28, 2017

On July 24, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts ruled that state law does not permit state and local law enforcement to arrest and hold individuals solely for immigration detainers at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The SJC stated that “Massachusetts law provide[d] no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody.”

In this case, Mr. Lunn, a Thai refugee from Cambodia, came to the US as a seven-month-old infant in 1985 to flee the Khmer Rouge. He has lived his entire life in the US and now has two US citizen children. On October 24, 2016, Mr. Lunn was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court for a single count of unarmed robbery. The day before his arraignment, ICE issued a civil immigration detainer against him. The detainer requested “he be held in State custody or up to two days after he would otherwise be released, in order to give officers of the department time to arrive and take him into Federal custody.”

At his arraignment, bond was set, however, Mr. Lunn was unable to post bond. He was incarcerated until his next hearing date. On February 6, 2017, Mr. Lunn’s case was dismissed for lack of prosecution because the Commonwealth was not ready for trial. At that point, Mr. Lunn had no criminal charges pending against him, and the judge or law enforcement officials declined act on Mr. Lunn’s request to be released custody as a result of the immigration detainer. As a result, Mr. Lunn remained in detention, despite the fact there were no longer any criminal charges pending against him. While Mr. Lunn was ultimately freed in June, before the case was decided, this case is important for all individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who are being held solely on immigration detainers.

If you believe you or a family member is currently being detained without any cause, call our office to set up a consultation today.