Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yale Law Clinic Files Lawsuit Against Unconstitutional ICE Raids In New Haven, CT In 2007

As reported by Esther Zuckerman and Colin Ross of the Yale Daily News in their story Immigrants sue feds over 2007 raids (October 28, 2009), ten residents of New Haven, Connecticut are filing a lawsuit on October 28, 2009 against ICE agents (Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents) along with their supervisors for conducting what the lawsuit claims are illegal ICE raids in New Haven, CT in 2007.

On June 6, 2007, ICE agents conducted raids and detained 29 residents of New Haven. According to some of the raid victims, ICE Agents broke into their homes without permission and arrested several people for no reason. These allegations are similar to allegations around the United States of ICE agents conducting raids without judicial warrants and allegedly breaking into people's homes without permission and illegally arresting them.

Around two dozen cases either have been fought or are being fought in immigration court, often including motions to suppress any illegally obtained evidence or a motion to terminate the proceedings due to illegal government conduct. This effort would seek monetary damages, which if successful might be another way to discourage government officials from engaging in illegal conduct against people who live in the United States.

One controversial issue is whether senior ICE officials essentially endorsed illegal raids by pressuring regional ICE offices to make high quotas for arrests, increasing the goal for an enforcement team from 125 per year to 1,000 per year.

Not many people (whether citizens or not) will have the resources to challenge the government if they are the victim of illegal ICE raids. One positive step would be to apply the exclusionary rule in immigration court to suppress evidence that the government illegally obtains through what many critics consider widespread violations of people's Fourth Amendment rights.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Jersey Law Journal Urges Appointed Counsel In Immigration Court

In September 2009, the New Jersey Law Journal's editorial board urged the Attorney General to consider creating a system for offering a competent corps of lawyers to help improverished people defend themselves in immigration court from potential deportation. Immigration law is extremely complex and the consequences of removal are often drastic.

The New Jersey Law Journal correctly focuses on an important issue -- appointing counsel to defend the indigent. There are important related areas that the New Jersey Law Journal did not address in that specific editorial -- whether as a matter of fundamental fairness, the immigration courts have the legal obligation to appoint counsel for some indigent people in immigration court, either as a blanket rule or on a case-by-case basis.

With the immigration laws becoming harsher and more similar to the criminal justice system (with detainees sometimes housed in the same building as criminal prisoners and brought to immigration court in shackles, sometimes held under the mandatory detention program), the need to appoint counsel and for the courts or the government to pay for the representation may be drawing closer to being recognized, perhaps by the courts, perhaps by Congress, or perhaps by the Attorney General.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Government Illegal Deports Green-Card Holder And Man Can't Be Found

When a circuit court orders the government not to deport someone until the appeal is resolved, the government is not allowed to deport the person while the appeal is still being decided.

Just because deporting someone at that stage would be illegal does not mean the government follows the rules every time. Take a look at the case of Aguilar-Turcios v. Holder, which the Ninth Circuit decided on September 29, 2009.

Mr. Aguilar was ordered deported but was appealing the case and asked the circuit court to force the government to keep him in the United States until they decided his appeal. The Ninth Circuit ordered the government not to deport him while they were considering the appeal. The government mistakenly deported him to Honduras anyway. Mr. Aguilar won his appeal and the government cannot deport him. But they already did. The Ninth Circuit wrote in the decision that "To date, efforts by the government and Aguilar's counsel to locate and return Aguilar to the United States have been unsuccessful."

The government has argued that deporting someone while an appeal is ongoing is acceptable because they will supposedly facilitate the return of anyone who wins the appeal. In Mr. Aguilar's case, the government illegal deported him, violating a direct court order, and is having no success in bringing him back.