Reconciling the Bail Reform Act and Immigration Authority under Trump Executive Orders

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Friday, January 19, 2018
Rebecca Krishnan-Ayer

On October 16, 2017, customs agents in John F. Kennedy International Airport arrested Keston Lett, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, after they discovered he was carrying more than two kilos of cocaine. Lett was charged with importation of a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952(a) and 960.  After satisfying his conditions for release from criminal custody pending trial, the District Court issued an order requiring that the defendant be released on bond. Lett was then transferred to the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody pursuant to an immigration detainer.  Defense counsel for Lett filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing Lett’s continued detention by ICE following his release on bail violated his statutory rights under the Bail Reform Act of 1984 (BRA) as well as his constitutional rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments.