By Josh Siegel | Washington Examiner
Children who immigrate to the U.S. illegally alone must be given a court hearing before being detained, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said unanimously that unaccompanied minors, as children who migrate illegally are known, are entitled to bond hearings that determine whether they can be released until their case is heard in court.
The judges said the federal government must follow the terms of a 1997 lawsuit settlement that required bond hearings for minors.
After that settlement, Congress passed two laws dealing with unaccompanied minors, including a 2002 law transferring responsibility for children who travel alone illegally to the Department of Health and Human Services until their court cases are heard.
“This country was built on the principles of due process and ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ It is reassuring to know these concepts continue to bleed through the fabric of our legal system, even when it applies to suspected illegal immigrants. Regardless of their views on immigration in general, I think most people would agree that upholding these principles in all instances, such as affording bond hearings for suspected illegal immigrants before they are detained, serves a noble purpose.”