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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Obama Admin Sued for Violating Constitutional Rights of Mothers and Children

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
From the American Immigration Council:

Released on Fri, Aug 22, 2014

Washington D.C.
— The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center today sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.


The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia, New Mexico — hours from the nearest major metropolitan area. The complaint charges the Obama administration with enacting a new strong-arm policy to ensure rapid deportations by holding these mothers and their children to a nearly insurmountable and erroneous standard to prove their asylum claims, and by placing countless hurdles in front of them.


"These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government's policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm's way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations."


According to the complaint, the Obama administration is violating long-established constitutional and statutory law by enacting policies that have:


  • Categorically prejudged asylum cases with a "detain-and-deport" policy, regardless of individual circumstances.
  • Drastically restricted communication with the outside world for the women and children held at the remote detention center, including communication with attorneys. If women got to make phone calls at all, they were cut off after three minutes when consulting with their attorneys. This makes it impossible to prepare for a hearing or get legal help.
  • Given virtually no notice to detainees of critically important interviews used to determine the outcome of asylum requests. Mothers have no time to prepare, are rushed through their interviews, are cut off by officials throughout the process, and are forced to answer traumatic questions, including detailing instances of rape, while their children are listening.
  • Led to the intimidation and coercion of the women and children by immigration officers, including being screamed at for wanting to see a lawyer.

"Fast-tracking the deportations of women and children from immigration detention is an assault on due process. There is no way that justice can be served when so many people are being rushed through the system without any real opportunity to assert claims for relief. What we are seeing in Artesia is nothing less than a sham process that values expediency over justice," said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.

The plaintiffs include:


  • A Honduran mother who fled repeated death threats in her home country to seek asylum in the United States with her two young children. The children's father was killed by a violent gang that then sent the mother and her children continuous death threats.When she went to the police they told her that they could not do anything to help her. It is common knowledge where she lived that the police are afraid of the gang and will do nothing to stop it.
  • A mother who fled El Salvador with her two children because of threats by the gang that controls the area where they lived. The gang stalked her 12-year-old child every time he left the house and threatened kidnapping. She fears that if the family returns to El Salvador, the gang will kill her son. Some police officers are known to be corrupt and influenced by gangs. The mother says she knows of people who have been killed by gang members after reporting them to police.
  • A mother who fled El Salvador with her 10-month old son after rival gangs threatened to kill her and her baby. One gang tried to force the mother to become an informant on the activities of another gang, and when she refused, told her she had 48 hours to leave or be killed.
  • "The women and children detained in Artesia have endured brutal murders of loved ones, rapes, death threats, and similar atrocities that no mother or child ever should have to endure, and our government is herding them through the asylum process like cattle," said Trina Realmuto, an attorney at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. "The deportation-mill in Artesia lacks even the most basic protections, like notice and the opportunity to be heard, that form the cornerstone of due process in this country."


The lawsuit, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Co-counsel in this case includes the law firms of Jenner & Block, and Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP; and the ACLU of New Mexico, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and ACLU of the Nation's Capital.


"Any mother will do whatever it takes to make sure her children are safe from harm's way," said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. "Our plaintiffs are no different: they have fled their homes to protect their children, only to find that the U.S. deportation system is intent upon placing them back in the dangerous situations they left. We are filing this lawsuit today to ensure that each mother is able to have her fair day in court, and that we are not sending children and their mothers back to violence or their deaths."


The complaint, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson, and attorney declarations are available on our Artesia Resource Page.


###
For press inquiries, contact:
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7524, wfeliz@immcouncil.org
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, American Civil Liberties Union, 212-549-2666, media@aclu.orgAdela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org
Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project/NLG, 202-271-2286, paromita@nipnlg.org


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Updated 08-22-2014 at 01:27 PM by MKolken

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Comments

  1. SheWhoWalksAlone's Avatar
    There have been news interviews where the women stated they came here because they knew they would get amnesty.

    Violence was NOT the truth, that's the lie those like you are using to destroy the futures of American children!
  2. Suspicious's Avatar
    Real refugees would seek asylum in the first safe country they could reach. That would be Mexico. They are economic migrants, not refugees.
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    How considerate of the above two commentators to prejudge these cases without any interest in finding out the facts. That will no doubt save everyone a lot of time and effort which might otherwise have gone into learning the truth about why these children came to the US, with or without their families.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  4. Intecon's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Suspicious
    Real refugees would seek asylum in the first safe country they could reach. That would be Mexico. They are economic migrants, not refugees.
    I totally agree with "Suspiciious". I would like to know who is orchestrating this fiasco; it certainly is not a bunch of Central American peasants who independently decided to head northward.

    Everyone wants to come to America . . . let them qualify and stand in line like everybody else; or alternatively, allow anyone, from any country to just get on a ship or airplane and fly to America to seek Assylum. That ain't gonna happen because the USA would be inundated with people from all over the world, especially the Middle East, Ukraine, etc.

    Perhaps Roger, you can answer those questions.
    Updated 08-25-2014 at 04:11 PM by Intecon (Clarification with whom I agreed.)
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    You may not like this, Intecon, but there is a line, a legal one, that these children and their parents are standing in - legally. It is called the asylum line.

    Most of these children, at least those who are not accompanied by their parents. have the legal right to a fair and full asylum hearing, and to protection from deportation until that takes place (if they lose, which, I predict that fewer and fewer and them will as time goes on and immigration judges become more sophisticated and knowledgeable about country conditions in Central America.

    So, at least for now, the children have the legal right to stay here. Don't like the immigration laws of this country, the United States of America? Then call your Congressional Rep. and get them changed.

    Lots of Luck!

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 08-25-2014 at 04:44 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  6. Retired INS's Avatar
    There is another line, it is called the Refugee line. It is for people to apply for refugee status before coming to the United States. Of course, this is not always an option, but has anyone in Central America tried this line? The truly good cases should be approved.
  7. jrcardona1's Avatar
    Thank you Roger for your articles and legal insights into the thorny issues impacting immigrants in the US and those seeking refuge/asylum now.
    I write till now after reading comments espousing biased views vis a vis those escaping violent environments in Central American countries.
    I work in a community agency and get to see and hear the incredible sad and tragic stories many asylum seekers have experienced. I also know that once a gang threat has been placed on ones head there is no SECOND chance, you either face possible death or you flee. What would your ardent biased readers choose?
    Thanks for your work Roger!
  8. Retired INS's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jrcardona1
    Thank you Roger for your articles and legal insights into the thorny issues impacting immigrants in the US and those seeking refuge/asylum now.
    I write till now after reading comments espousing biased views vis a vis those escaping violent environments in Central American countries.
    I work in a community agency and get to see and hear the incredible sad and tragic stories many asylum seekers have experienced. I also know that once a gang threat has been placed on ones head there is no SECOND chance, you either face possible death or you flee. What would your ardent biased readers choose?
    Thanks for your work Roger!

    Over the years I interviewed many Central Americans, especially those from El Salvador. The problem those of us in the INS faced is that most asylum seekers waited until apprehended before claiming asylum (in the years before a time limit was placed on claiming asylum). Their first priority was finding a job, applying for asylum was usually an afterthought. So many were fleeing poverty that it was impossible for us to know the true reason for fleeing Central America. When I worked for immigration, the standard or asylum was persecution by one's own government. Rarely was the government the direct source of persecution.

    In the days before the asylum officers were established we denied about 95% of applications. The agency thought that was too high, so the position of asylum officer was created and special offices established to conduct the interviews. The agency tried to hire new employees who had not previously conducted asylum cases, because we might be prejudiced from past practice. Despite all of these efforts to make asylum easier to get, the denial rates remained close to what they had been previously. At that time, most of the approved cases were from the middle east for religious persecution.
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