Rights of legal immigrants routinely violated, ACLU says

What many legal immigrants may not realize when they are accused of a crime is that it can have a dramatic affect on their status, which in turn has an even greater impact on their lives. We talked about this a few weeks back, but there are some seemingly-underhanded tactics being used by federal officials to deprive immigrants of their rights and to open up frivolous and damaging legal action.

The American Civil Liberties Union says that legal immigrants — who possess a green card, a visa or some other form of verification that certifies their status — are held in immigration detention centers for long periods for simple, petty crimes. These individuals are then tabbed for potential deportation, despite their legitimate claim to stay in the country and despite the frivolous nature of the legal action.

At the same time, the ACLU says that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provides little or no information to these individuals regarding their rights. For example, any immigrant detainee has the right to contest their incarceration. According to the ACLU, ICE does not always tell immigrant detainees this vital fact.

One case in particular has piqued the ACLU’s interest, and it could have ramifications for hundreds of detainees all across the country. A 53-year-old man (originally from Jamaica, but has since gained legal residency in the U.S.) was recently arrested — for a marijuana possession incident that occurred in 1995. He has been detained and will be jailed until his proceeding is finalized because of the aforementioned federal mandates.

The ACLU is challenging the 53-year-old’s case, which is sadly not uncommon. If their challenge is successful, it could impact many immigration cases around the country.

Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger, “ACLU lawsuit fights mandatory jail time for immigration detainees,” James Queally, Nov. 15, 2012

  • Legal issues pertaining to an immigrant’s removal from the country can be messy and confusing. But even if you are detained, you still have rights — and legal options. Visit our Los Angeles deportation defense page to learn more.