On October 10, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Nielsen v. Preap. At the heart of the case is whether certain individuals are subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing.

The individuals who will be affected by this case are those noncitizens (such as legal permanent residents) with past criminal convictions, often years-old, who were then released from criminal custody back into their communities without being immediately detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Many of these individuals never even served any prison time.

The government is arguing that it has the power to detain those individuals whenever — even years or decades after they’ve reintegrated into their communities — and hold them without an opportunity for a bond hearing.

Without a bond hearing, a person is forced to languish in detention indefinitely throughout the duration of their immigration case.


Essentially, the government is arguing in favor of arbitrarily detaining individuals who have reintegrated into their communities, becoming fathers or mothers, running businesses, starting new professions or accomplishing other important milestones.

These are individuals who’ve demonstrated that they are not a flight risk and don’t pose any danger to the community. The government’s approach is punitive. Mandatory detention impacts not only thousands of men and women but also their families and communities. It is yet another example of how the Trump administration’s agenda tears families apart.


Khalil Cumberbatch is Associate Vice President at the Fortune Society in New York City. He is a legal permanent resident from Guyana.

When he was 20 he and a friend were convicted of robbery. While serving time in prison he decided to turn his life around, finish college and obtain a graduate degree in social work. He also was married and had two daughters.

Four years had passed since his release from prison and he was one week from graduating with his master’s degree. But then ICE agents knocked on his door and reminded him of his old conviction, arresting him and locking him up for 5 months in New Jersey.

He was released from detention after an outpouring of community support and eventually pardoned by Gov. Cuomo. But the damage was done. To this day, his youngest daughter suffers from the trauma of being separated from her father.


Khalil Cumberbatch


Alina Das, NYU Professor of Clinical Law andCo-Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic


(347) 693-6485

Liz Martinez, Dir. of Advocacy, Freedom for Immigrants


(956) 572-4349

Freedom for Immigrants worked with Priya Sreenivasan and Daniela Ugaz, second-year law students with NYU School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, on an Op Ed that was published in The Hill on October 10th. Please click here to read: https://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/410490-this-supreme-court-immigration-case-could-mean-more-family-separations