America’s immigration courts are a rubber-stamp assembly-line nightmare.
Those the government seeks to deport do not have a right to an attorney. Basic due process protections do not apply. It’s even common for deportees to be denied an individual hearing.
Many are instead brought into the courtroom en masse with other detainees for a perfunctory mass approval of the government’s recommendations.
Jacqueline Stevens, a political scientist at Northwestern University and an expert on deportation law, estimates that in 2010 alone, over 4,000 U.S. citizens were detained or deported as aliens. Between 2003 and 2010, more than 20,000 Americans suffered the same fate. At any given time, Stevens maintains, about 1 percent of the inmates in immigration detention nationwide are American citizens. That figure may sound unbelievable, but in fact it is a conservative estimate.
Cities are stepping up and providing much-needed legal assistance for those accused, including citizens
Some cities are beginning to experiment with providing free legal clinics and pro bono lawyers for those caught up in America’s immigration courts, which are set up separately from the usual federal district courts that handle both criminal and civil cases.
A pilot program in New York City produced amazing results, and is rapidly expanding. A study showed that immigrants without a lawyer only had a four percent success rate. That jumped to 48 percent with a lawyer.
These programs are being provided not by the federal government but instead by cities and municipalities keen on protecting their residents and tax base.
Sometimes, people are surprised to find out the government considers them to not be a citizen. That’s a particularly galling realization for America’s deported military veterans.
United States military veterans are being deported, too
That’s right: Veterans, including some who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, are frequently deported over minor petty offenses years after their honorable discharge.
Non-citizen legal residents are allowed to enlist in the U.S. military, and doing so does qualify them for citizenship after a set period of time.
But many are never told they have to formally apply for citizenship, and are stunned to find out years later that they’re being deported from the country they fought for. There is even a Deported Veterans Support House in Juarez, just across the border.
In a vicious twist of fate, these deported veterans are still “eligible” for Veterans’ Assistance benefits, although they cannot obtain them out of the country. And they will only be allowed back into the country under one circumstance: If they die, they are still entitled to burial with honors in an American military cemetery.
This is America’s cruel, inhumane, and indefensible deportation machine.
(Deported U.S. Army veteran Hector Barajas walks next to the US-Mexican border fence during a Fourth of July gathering on the beach at Playas de Tijuana on July 4, 2017, in Tijuana, Mexico. The Deported Veterans Support House, also known as “The Bunker” was founded by deported U.S. Army veteran Barajas to support deported veterans by offering food, shelter, clothing as well as advocating for political legislation that would prohibit future deportations of veterans. There are an estimated 11,000 non-citizens serving in the U.S. military and most will be naturalized during or following their service. Those who leave the military early or who are convicted of a crime after serving can be deported. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.)