Immigrant Detention Concerns
November 28, 2018
Immigration law, 8 U.S. Code § 1226(c), describes the process and penalties regarding the apprehension and detention of non-citizens who have committed a range of crimes that qualify for deportation.
Currently, the law has been loosely interpreted to allow for additional detaining of immigrants after they are released from federal or state prisons. These individuals are held without a bond hearing, while a United States immigration court decides whether they can remain in the country, or face deportation.
Some of the crimes that qualify for deportation include:
- Crimes resulting in imprisonment for one year or more
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Fleeing from an immigration checkpoint
- Possession of illegal drugs
- Drug abusers and addicts
- Firearm offenses
- Domestic violence
Time Limit Debate
In response to a class-action lawsuit brought by non-citizens in California, several Supreme Court justices expressed concerns with the current interpretation of the above-mentioned immigration law.
The debate centers around several cases where legal immigrants were detained for deportation hearings years after their incarceration had ended.
The lawsuit poses two questions:
- Is there any purpose to detainment without bail?
- Is it a flight risk to allow non-citizens, incarcerated years ago, to remain free while a deportation case is pending?
In one example, a plaintiff, and legal U.S. resident since 1981, was incarcerated for two counts of possession of marijuana and released from prison in 2006. However, the plaintiff was not taken into custody for deportation until 2013.
Although the plaintiff was eventually awarded a deportation hearing and won his deportation case, his case has brought to light the fact that the law reads only that detention can occur when an immigrant is released from custody.
Notably, there is no reasonable statute of limitations imposed to prohibit the government from detaining a reformed non-citizen, years after a sentence has been served.
It may come as no surprise that the use of detention as an immigration enforcement strategy has recently come to the public’s attention. Many individuals have been detained for prolonged periods of time without being found to be either a danger to society, or a flight risk.
The larger issue at hand is the fact that the US immigration detention system seems to have no regulations regarding detention conditions.
As a result, there have been reports of:
- Inadequate medical treatment
- Limited opportunity for personal hygiene
- No dependable access to telephones
- Poor sleeping conditions
- Limited access to legal services
However, the biggest problem of all may be the prevalent lack of communication between the detainees and those in charge. Detainees may be separated from their families and children with no information regarding their whereabouts or wellbeing. Additionally, detainees often have no sense about the status or timeline of their own case for deportation.
This, coupled with the fact that many detainees often find it difficult to obtain the legal assistance they need, makes for a harrowing situation.
For those concerned about being detained after serving a prison sentence or for violation of other immigration laws, time is of the essence. Contact a Philadelphia immigration lawyer to protect your rights and inform you of your legal options.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Assist Clients with Immigration Law
At the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC our experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers protect the rights of non-citizens. To discuss the details of your case and schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, we assist clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.