Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Human Rights Watch Questions U.S. Mandatory Deportation Laws

On July 17, 2007, Human Rights Watch released a report titled "Forced Apart: Families Separated and Immigrants Harmed by US Deportation Policy" to address the deportation of non-citizens with criminal convictions. The system created by Congress is a form of mandatory deportation for a wide category of crimes and in some situations, Congress prohibits an immigration judge from using any discretion to consider the non-citizen's actual characteristics and accomplishments to decide whether to issue a deportation order.

According to Human Rights Watch, deportation cases have included a father of three US citizen children convicted of breaking into a car and of stealing a $10 bottle of eye drops from a drug store. A 52-year old man who had his green card status as a legal permanent resident for 40 years, had served in the military, had four US citizen children, but was guilty of possession and sale of small amounts of drugs was deported.

According to Alison Parker, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch's US program and author of the report, most major democracies and European Union members will consider family relationships and other ties to a country when deciding whether to enter a deportation order, but the US Congress have tied the hands of immigration judges in a wide category of cases. Two immigrants deported based on criminal convictions despite over 20 years each of lawful permanent resident status, Wayne Smith and Hugo Armendariz, have a claim with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, and their cases will be heard in a Washington, DC hearing on Friday, July 20, 2007.


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