The ACLU of New Hampshire, together with the ACLU of Massachusetts, has filed a class action lawsuit challenging the government’s practice of denying due process to detained immigrants.

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of immigrants who are currently jailed due to flawed detention hearings in which the detainee was required to bear the burden of proof. The named plaintiffs in the case include a Massachusetts man who lives with his U.S. citizen wife and three young children, a New Hampshire dairy farmer, and a New Hampshire man who fled Haiti to escape political violence.

The government’s practice runs contrary to multiple federal court decisions holding that such a procedure is unlawful. Under the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot take away any person’s liberty without showing that is necessary to do so. During immigration proceedings, however, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) routinely holds people in jail for long periods of time without ever being required to make such a showing. Instead, immigrants are jailed until they can prove that they should not be detained by showing that they are not a danger and not a flight risk.

The result is a vast civil detention apparatus for people who are merely accused of being subject to deportation and who often have lawful pathways to remain in the United States. The ACLU argues that without class-wide relief, the government will continue to deny fundamental due process to immigrants detained in Massachusetts or otherwise receiving a bond hearing in the Boston immigration court.

Date filed

June 13, 2019


U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts


Patti B. Saris



Case number