Saturday, August 13, 2011

New lawsuit challenges Homeland Security on immigration detention

Immigrant advocates filed a federal class action lawsuit on Thursday this week against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unlawfully detaining immigrants and U.S. citizens that were identified through local law enforcement agencies. The Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is leveling the legal challenge.

The lawsuit questions the constitutionality of DHS’s use of immigration detainers. Detainers instruct police to continue to detain individuals after the local police’s authority has expired, until DHS officers arrive to take the individuals into custody. Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a U.S. citizen who has been held on an immigration detainer since March 2011, after his arrest in Rockford, Illinois. As a U.S. citizen, he can't be deported from the United States.

“DHS detainers deprive thousands of men and women of basic constitutional due process rights,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “This expansive use of detainers harms U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, families, and communities, and betrays American ideals of fairness and justice.”

The detainers violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, according to NIJC, because DHS:
  • fails to establish probable cause before issuing the detainers, 
  • does not notify individuals that detainers have been issued against them, and 
  • provides no means by which individuals can challenge their extended detention. 
DHS’s use of detainers also violates the 10th Amendment because it requires state and local governments to implement federal law.

The Obama administration have utilized retainers heavily in immigration enforcement. They allow DHS to greatly increase deportations while passing the cost on to local law enforcement agencies. Under the Secure Communities program, when local police make an arrest, they are required to send fingerprint information to a federal immigration database. That frequently triggers detainer requests.

DHS issued about 271,000 immigration detainers in fiscal year 2009 and more than 201,000 detainers through the first 11 months of fiscal year 2010. The Obama administration has already deported over a million people.

"Stop InSecure Communities," designed by Alfredo Burgos with color added by Ernesto Yerena [Credit: NDLON]
NIJC filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of two specific individuals who are suffering or will suffer violations to their constitutional rights as a result of the DHS detainers. The lead plaintiffs are:

• Jose Jimenez Moreno, a 34-year-old U.S. citizen who is detained in Winnebago County, Illinois. He was arrested on March 21 in Rockford, Illinois. Without ever interviewing or speaking to him, DHS issued an immigration detainer against Mr. Jimenez the following day. DHS still never has contacted Jimenez. As a U.S. citizen, he cannot be deported.

• Maria Jose Lopez is a lawful permanent resident who is detained at a federal correctional institution in Tallahassee, Florida, and has been subject to an immigration detainer since February 1 this year. The conviction that led to Ms. Lopez’s incarceration is not grounds for deportation under U.S. immigration law. DHS has still not contacted her. Lopez, who came to the United States when she was four years old, is today  the primary caregiver to her three U.S.-citizen children. Because of the immigration detainer, Ms. Lopez can't be placed in a halfway house or receive other benefits that would help her care for her children as she serves her sentence.

1 comment:

Vicente Duque said...

Famous Law Professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin has debated against SB 1070 in 70 Forums and now he flees Arizona because of the Racism and Bigotry. He will teach at University of California at Davis - Unforgettable and Odd Character

He does not want want to raise his two daughters ( 10 and 13 ) in the Racist Environment of Arizona - Chin is a lanky 6-footer who sometimes wears a New York Yankees bandana, will go without shaving for several days, dress like a hobo.

This is another form of Anti-Arizona Boycott, losing the Great Professors, while California benefits of having new Great Scholars.

The Sacramento Bee
Immigration expert fed up with Arizona, comes to UC Davis
By Stephen Magagnini
Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011

Some excerpts :

During his eight years in Arizona, "it seems there's been a steady flow of anti- immigrant sentiment that's inextricably tied to their race," said Chin, who said he has debated or discussed SB 1070 in public forums 70 times.

"The Arizona Legislature's passed laws that I see as harsh, cruel and inhumane, and it seems unlikely it's going to stop in the next decade," said Chin, adding that he and his wife didn't want to raise their two daughters – Becca, 10 and Sarah, 13 – in Arizona's current political climate.

Discrimination against immigrants of color is something Chin, 47, takes personally. He traces his roots back to Chinese immigrants who came to California during the Gold Rush and helped build the transcontinental railroad.

His father, Frank Chin, is a pioneering Asian American playwright and activist in Los Angeles, who grew up in Placerville and Oakland.

Chin, a lanky 6-footer who sometimes wears a New York Yankees bandana, will go without shaving for several days, dress like a hobo and invite his students to a parking lot, where he's secretly arranged for local police to interrogate him.

"I want to show the students what really goes on when the police encounter a suspect in the field, what it's like to be stopped, what it's like to be frisked and what's at stake on both sides," Chin said. "I cuss out the police and try to provoke them."

He and his wife Sue Emam, a teacher and social worker, have moved to the Wild Horse subdivision in Davis. The family is still shellshocked by the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others outside a Tucson supermarket not far from the Chins' home. Six people died in the January shooting, including a federal judge. The suspect has not given police a motive.

Chin acknowledges the mounting frustration in Arizona and the nation as people lose jobs and schools lose funding. "But not spending the rest of our lives in a state where the No. 1 policy is culture war makes sense for us," he said.