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Posts Tagged ‘Justice Department’

Detained Immigrants and Their Right to Legal Representation

September 17th, 2010 No comments
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As the Obama administration seeks to create a more humane system of detention for illegal immigrants, most continue to be held in rural jails without ready access to legal representation.

According to a survey of immigration detention facilities nationwide, more than half did not offer detainees information about their rights. Furthermore, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains about 400,000 immigrants annually at a cost of $1.7 billion this fiscal year.

Executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center claimed that while access to legal counsel is a foundation of the U.S. Justice System, their survey found that the government continues to detain thousands of men and women in remote facilities where access to counsel is limited or nonexistent.

Federal officials said they were making progress in helping provide legal help for detained immigrants. Additionally, ICE spokesman stated that they are working with their stakeholders, including the U.S. Department of Justice and nongovernmental organizations, to expand and support legal pro bono representation for those in custody.

The issue of lawyers for immigrant detainees is not new. Last year, the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group that promotes the right to legal counsel, argued in a report that the government should consider public funding for legal aid to detained immigrants.

Illegal immigrants ordered held are placed in a patchwork of about 350 mostly private facilities, many of them in less populated parts of the country. Detainees often find themselves transferred to facilities far from their homes, families, friends, and access to legal representation. Some California detainees are transferred to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, which makes it very difficult for their families to coordinate and organize a meaningful defense to deportation.

A 2005 Migration Policy Institute study found that 41% of detainees applying to become lawful permanent residents who had legal counsel won their cases, compared with 21% of those without representation. In asylum cases, 18% of detainees with lawyers were granted asylum, compared with 3% for those without.

Granting immigrants better access to counsel could even save taxpayer money because detainees often would be released sooner, saving the $122-a-day cost of detention.

If you or a loved one is currently in immigration court or being held in detention, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation.

Justice Department To Sue Arizona Over Anti-Immigrant Law

July 17th, 2010 No comments
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The Justice Department has decided to file suit against Arizona on the grounds that the state’s new immigration law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives.

The lawsuit, which three sources said could be filed as early as Tuesday, will invoke for its main argument the legal doctrine of “preemption,” which is based on the Constitution’s supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statutes. Justice Department officials believe that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility, the sources said.

A federal lawsuit will dramatically escalate the legal and political battle over the Arizona law, which gives police the power to question anyone if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal immigrant. The measure has drawn words of condemnation from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and opposition from civil rights groups. It also has prompted at least five other lawsuits. Arizona officials have urged the Obama administration not to sue.

The preemption doctrine has been established in Supreme Court decisions, and some legal experts have said such a federal argument likely would persuade a judge to declare the law unconstitutional.

But lawyers who helped draft the Arizona legislation have expressed doubt that a preemption argument would prevail. The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in April, is scheduled to take effect on July 29, 2010.

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