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Appeals court rules that children cannot be indefinitely detained

Immigration rights are a contentious issue in the United States. Individual rights are a key issue in most arrests, and that is no different when the charges are for illegal entry into the county. When children or minors are involved, it’s even more complicated.

A recent ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California has overruled existing laws about detaining minors. The decision begins with a 1997 lawsuit and was reexamined in court this year over the detention of a 16 year-old boy who had entered the country illegally. Instead of releasing him to mother in California, he was in custody for over one year. The ruling concludes that minors are entitled to a court hearing.

Rights extend beyond age and citizenship

In this case, and many like it, when a youth is arrested for illegal entry, they are held in prison-like lock-up if they don’t agree to removal from the country. Government action can take months—in this case the minor waited 480 days before the 9th Circuit reversed his fortunes by allowing a bond hearing.

Children cannot spend every minute with their parents. When a child is undocumented, it’s a parent’s worst fear that their child will be taken from them. The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court reinforces that certain rights are guaranteed, even if the subject is a dependent and doesn’t hold the same legal status as an adult. Constitutional rights are not limited to citizens.

Addressing legal concerns

Immigration policy is a common headline in the 2017 news cycle and many undocumented immigrants face an uncertain future. Fear is an unfortunate component in discussions about legal status. If you’re threatened with accusations or questions, speaking with a knowledgeable attorney will help you to understand your rights and to help you get through a difficult situation.

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