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San Francisco Bay Area Immigration Blog

ACLU and ICE Reach Settlement on Shackling of Detained Clients

The ACLU and ICE reached a settlement for detained clients as a result of a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in 2011 on behalf of immigrant detainees in Northern California.

The lawsuit challenged ICE’s policy of shackling detainees during court appearances which limited their ability to communicate with their attorneys or participate in their hearings.

Under the settlement agreement, detainees will still be shackled during master calendar hearings where there are a large number of immigrants appearing before the Immigration Judge for procedural issues.  However, the settlement prohibits the practice of chaining the detainees to one another, and allows detainees to be free of shackles during the merits hearings which can last for hours.

The settlement will bring dignity to detained immigrants in Immigration Court proceedings.  The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit all claimed that being shackled before the Immigration Court made them feel ashamed.  Others reported that the shackles were painful, especially those with medical conditions.  According to the LA Times, one Guatemalan detainee, Esmar Cifuentes, “worried that when ‘my family comes to see me … my children might think I did something evil like kill somebody.’