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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Immigrant Detainees Win Right To Bond Hearings

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.

As a hunger strike continues at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, a new federal court ruling coincidentally meets one of the protesters' demands.

The ruling issued late Tuesday says more detainees are entitled to bond hearings. The detainees on hunger strike have criticized the lack of bond hearings at the Tacoma facility, as well as high bond amounts that are often prohibitive for immigrant families to post

Matt Adams, an attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, said the ruling will give more immigrants facing deportation their day in court.

“No one is automatically going to be released, and no one is automatically going to be detained," Adams said. "It’s going to give them a fair hearing and that’s what we’re trying to focus on — that everybody gets their fair opportunity to explain why they shouldn’t be separated from their family, their friends or their employment.”

Without the chance to post bond, detainees can face months in limbo behind bars while their immigration case proceeds.

Adams said this ruling applies in cases where people have been released from the criminal justice system, back into the community, but were later picked up by immigration officials — sometimes years later — and placed in mandatory detention.

The ruling says these detainees should be given the opportunity for a bond hearing. And that it’s up to an immigration judge to decide which individuals should be locked up or released while their case is pending.

During a bond hearing, an immigration judge determines whether a detainee is considered a flight risk or a danger to the community in deciding whether to set bond and the amount of the bond if one is set.

Year started with KUOW: 2006