Attorney Doug Keller from the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., has written an issue paper entitled: Why Prior Conviction Sentencing Enhancements in Illegal Re-entry Cases are Unjust and Unjustified (and Unreasonable too).
The Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) has just released a study entitled "Isolated in Detention" that analyzes a detained immigrant's access to counsel.
Approximately 150 of the 300 immigration detention facilities
were surveyed between August and December 2009. The findings of the report illustrate the systemic impediments in immigration detention that inhibit access to counsel.
The study found that across the board affordable legal services
for immigrant detainees is grossly inadequate, there is a significant
lack of access to counsel, a limited access to legal orientation
programs, and most detention facilities have restrictive phone policies that prohibit detainees from freely communicating with counsel.
Not all immigration detention facilities are created equal. From my professional experience the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York is clean and professionally run. Attorneys have full access to their clients, and detainees have unfettered access to telephones to enable them to contact counsel. There are also free legal services available to detainees who qualify.
That being said, the detention facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey more closely resembles the Gulag, and is the poster child for all that is wrong with our immigration detention system. Unfortunately, the report reveals that the conditions in Elizabeth, New Jersey are the rule to the Buffalo, New York exception.
I just read a Houston Chronicle news story about 19-year-old Luis Alberto Delgado, a United States citizen born in Houston's Ben Taub Hospital, who was deported despite the fact that he provided them with a valid birth certificate, social security card, and government issued photo identification.
The article reports that Border Patrol
agents detained Delgado after a routine traffic stop in South Texas and interrogated him for eight hours. While detained Delgado produced definitive proof of his citizenship, but that wasn't good enough for the Immigration Officers because his English wasn't perfect.
Ultimately, Mr. Delgado relented and "signed paperwork" because he just didn't want to be in immigration custody any longer. Delgado was exiled for 85 days before U.S. Customs and Border Protection cleared him for return.
What the government has done to Mr. Delgado, a 19-year-old kid, is lock him up and tell him that he holds the key to his own cage. All he had to do was sign away his life, and his freedom would be his again. Whatever happened to due process?
What I find most annoying about this story is that the U.S. government
maintains the burden of proof to establish that an individual is not a
United States citizen should they wish to remove them from the United
States. The law clearly indicates that an individual does not have to
first prove that he or she has a valid claim to citizenship to avoid
deportation. It is the government's obligation to prove otherwise, which Mr. Delgado
rendered impossible due to the affirmative production of definitive
proof of his United States citizenship.
The reality is that the Government is permitted to ignore the law completely, and bully children into signing off on their own deportation. They are given this license because oftentimes there is almost no accountability for government incompetence.
How many more United States citizens need to be deported before the Government cleans up its act?
A new Quinnipiac University national poll has found that 68% of American voters believe that immigration policy should emphasize stricter immigration enforcement rather than integrating undocumented immigrants into the United States.
The specific question was asked: "Do you think immigration reform should primarily move in the direction of
integrating illegal immigrants into American society or in the direction of
stricter enforcement of laws against illegal immigration?"
The break down of the answers is as follows: Democrats are split evenly on the issue, with 50% of all Democrats favoring stricter immigration enforcement; Independent voters favor (68%) stricter enforcement; and the vast majority of Republicans (87%) favor stricter immigration enforcement.
It does not appear that there is much difference between the way men and women feel on this issue with 70% and 66% respectively favoring stricter immigration enforcement over the legalization of undocumented immigrants.
These numbers do not bode well for the prospect of immigration reform in the near or distant future.