Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Increased Focus On ICE Illegally Detaining United States Citizens

Andrew Becker and Patrick J. McDonnell of The Los Angeles Times focused on U.S. Citizens Caught Up In Immigration Sweeps on April 9, 2009, noting that ICE keeps no statistics on the number of time it improperly detains and holds United States citizens.

As they note, one problem is that courts today do not see immigration detainees as having a right to government-appointed counsel, so it can be extremely difficult for United States citizens stuck in detention to gather the documents to prove their citizenship. It is even tougher if ICE refuses to acknowledge that they are citizens, which requires putting together proof and a convincing explanation for an immigration judge. Even if you win, ICE can appeal the decision, which requires waiting until the appeal body rules on the case.

One United States citizen even told ICE officers the day they took him in that he was a citizen and they should not be trying to deport him. Even worse, an immigration judge who heard the case by video conference did not believe him and ordered him deported, even though he was a citizen. It took seven months to resolve the issue and for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to help the man with an appeal to the BIA to prove what he had known all along -- that he was a citizen who should not be deported.


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