In 2013, Juan Lozano Magdaleno gave a speech at his daughter’s wedding—or, more accurately, he gave a speech from a detention facility, which his family played, over the phone on speaker, at the wedding reception. At the time, Magdaleno had spent almost five months in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. Normally, someone like Magdaleno—a 57-year-old grandfather, who had been a lawful resident in the United States since the day he arrived from Mexico as a teenager—could ask the court to release him on bond while he waited out his deportation proceedings. A judge, after first confirming Magdaleno was not a flight risk or a danger to the community, could’ve let Magdaleno go home.
But Magdaleno never had the option to petition for release, pay bail, or go home. On his record, he had two prior criminal convictions: one from 2000 and one from 2007. It did not matter that Magdaleno had already served his time in prison and re-entered the community. The Obama administration, interpreting a 1996 law, had decided that immigrants with criminal convictions, like Magdaleno, would be placed in mandatory, non-negotiable detention. This meant Magdaleno would never have the opportunity to ask a judge to let him make bail….