In a previous post, we talked about how certain laws enacted in the late 20th century, intended to deal with immigrant crime, have led to denying immigrants the due process protections guaranteed to all people within the jurisdiction of the United States.
In Part One of this series, we discussed a fairly recent category of criminal offense, "aggravated felonies," created by Congress nearly 20 years ago to deal with dangerous criminal activities by immigrants. The laws were later expanded (and enforced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ) to include minor, non-violent crimes. Our South Carolina readers, here legally or not, need to be aware of these laws and also of the loss of civil rights that attend them.
For South Carolina immigrants and others across the country, a green card is not necessarily protection against deportation. Even a non-violent felony conviction can get a permanent legal resident deported, then banned from returning to the U.S. for 20 years. What began as a legislative response to serious criminal activity by some immigrants has turned into a potential human rights nightmare for all legal immigrants. Immigration attorneys throughout the country have been actively representing legal immigrants who are caught up in such a nightmare.
It's a terrifying prospect for many immigrants: detention and deportation. It's also a somewhat arbitrary and ever-changing scenario that keeps immigrants always in uncertainty. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) still has not set any real standards for detention, this virtual lack of rules regarding why and who gets detained does not extend to how many people get detained.
Immigrants in South Carolina might be interested in this not-uncommon saga of a Tuscon family broken apart by immigration practices that may turn a traffic violation into a potential deportation. A South Tuscon man on his way to work on Sept. 30 was pulled over for not having mud flaps on his truck and got more than a citation. In a case of mistaken identity, the police officer determined there was a warrant out on the man for domestic violence, which the man truthfully claimed was not for him. Nevertheless, the man now sits in a Florence detention center for undocumented immigrants.
Recently, a group of immigrant families gathered in effort to convince the Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to deport a man who came to South Carolina from Mexico illegally in 1999.
The federal immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities allows federal immigration officials to screen suspects who are brought into local jails. Several states have openly opposed the policy, which has resulted in the deportation of 280,000 people over the past five years.
A new report suggests that while the number of people living illegally in the United States illegally dropped during the economic recession, it could now be increasing once again.
This week, several undocumented immigrants chained themselves to the gates outside of the White House to protest the deportations of people who were found living in the United States illegally. The seven protesters were arrested and released, and deportation proceedings are not expected to take place against them.
Being detained while facing deportation or removal is an extremely scary experience. However, being placed in solitary confinement while being held in an immigration detention facility is even more traumatic. Solitary confinement means being placed in social isolation for 22 to 24 hours a day. Staying for extended periods of time in solitary confinement can even drive people insane.