Sunday, December 02, 2007
Detaining Undocumented Immigrants: Both Sides of the Issue. Political Stands.
Undocumented immigrants, including children, are subject to deportation at any time. "Deportation" means forced removal from the United States. In addition, legal immigrants who commit certain crimes can become deportable upon conviction.
Deportable Immigrants are often detained in a jail or jail-like setting until deportation can take place. The problem is that the United States has so many deportable Undocumented in custody at any given time, that they cannot physically or financially afford to send everyone home instantly. Sometimes the homelands of the deportable aliens will not accept their citizens back. This causes additional delays. Therefore, some immigrants languish in jail for years and years awaiting deportation. Including children. Terror suspects have also been held indefinitely, without judicial process, legal representation or any sort of time frame to rely on.
In June of 2001, in Zadvydas v. Davis, et al, 121 S. Ct. 2491, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the then-INS (currently the USCIS) could not indefinitely detain individuals who have been ordered removed from the U.S. but who cannot be repatriated to their homelands. However, exceptions continued to be made whenever removal within 90 days became impossible.
In April of 2003 Attorney General John D. Ashcroft defended and asserted the rights of the U.S. government to hold deportable Immigrants indefinitely. He released this far-reaching decision as he denied bail to an 18-year old Haitian migrant who had escaped Haiti and come to Florida by boat to seek asylum. Ashcroft maintained that Undocumented Immigrants do not have due process rights.
The Bush administration continues to hold this position.
While most people think of suspected terrorists when they hear the term "detainee," in fact, thousands upon thousands of Undocumented Immigrants, including children, are detained every year, and most have "only" committed the crime of being here Undocumented. Many people perceive illegal crossing to be a crime just as serious as theft or assault.
A sweeping 1996 immigration law, signed by Bill Clinton, retroactively made any green card holder who had committed even certain minor crimes immediately deportable. These people were often held indefinitely, sometimes being detained and deported because of, for example, a drug charge stemming back 15 years when they were in high school. Since 1996, some lawmakers have moved to soften this law, saying it targeted many of the wrong people. However, at the same time, the 9/11 terror attacks have contributed to harsher legal stance toward Undocumented Immigrants, and immigrants in general, as evidenced by all the secretive and indefinite detentions of 9/11 terror suspects.
The Supreme Court decided in June of 2004 that terror suspects have a right to dispute the grounds of their detention.
All the issues surrounding terror suspects, detention and deportation continue to be debated by lawmakers
We cannot simply let Undocumented escape back into society. They are held until arrangements can be made to send them home. And, in many cases, it is a matter of national security, even if that refers to simply stemming the tide of future Undocumented immigration. Most conservatives believe that going easy on Undocumented Immigrants(i.e., letting them go on bail or bond), will encourage others to attempt coming here illegally as well. It may also teach criminal Immigrants that they can break U.S. laws and still stay in the country.
It is inhumane to hold people in jail when there is no criminal trial pending and no sentence involved. Thousands of children who accompany their parents into the U.S. illegally are sent to youth prisons, housed with child murderers and drug dealers, and denied fundamental human rights. Some commit suicide. The vast majority of these detainees are from countries not even remotely linked to terrorism.
Where it Stands
Where George W. Bush Stands:
Bush supports tough treatment of deportable aliens and supports Ashcroft's sweeping decision to allow indefinite detentions.
Where Democrats Generally Stand:
During the 2004 Presidential Campaign, Governor John Kerry (D-Mass)supported "restoring the discretion of immigration judges to evaluate cases on an individual basis and grant relief to deserving immigrants and their families." Most representatives in his party agree with this stance.