The central question in this case, which is pending at the First Circuit Court of Appeals, is whether 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(6) should be construed to require a bond hearing before a neutral decision maker after six months of incarceration for individuals -- like our client Karen Elizabeth Rivera-Medrano -- who are pursuing bona fide claims to relief from removal that can take the government years to adjudicate and who have not engaged in dilatory tactics in seeking this relief.

Our client, Karen Elizabeth Rivera-Medrano, is an asylum seeker who was detained by ICE for over eight months without a bond hearing, despite having no criminal record or any indication that she is a flight risk.  We filed a habeas corpus petition to challenge this needless and unconstitutional detention in the District Court for the District of New Hampshire. We argued that Ms. Rivera-Medrano could not be detained without any bond hearing under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution because she had a significant liberty interest to be released, and Congress never meant to mandatorily and indeterminately detain individuals like her.  The District Court agreed, and ordered the government to provide a bond hearing in which the government was required to justify her detention by clear and convincing evidence.  As expected, the government could not produce any evidence to justify her detention.  As a result, Karen was subsequently released following a bond hearing.  

The government appealed the District Court's decision requiring a bond hearing to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and this appeal is pending.  We filed our brief before the First Circuit on April 19, 2021.  On appeal, this case has been stayed because the U.S. Supreme Court has elected to decide this legal issue in a pending case.


Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, and SangYeob Kim, ACLU-NH Immigration Staff Attorney

Date filed

April 19, 2021


First Circuit Court of Appeals



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