All men are created equal, unless you’re an alien

No, not the ET kind of an alien, but an immigrant in the United States.

The life of an immigrant, legal or illegal, in this country is filled with fear, uncertainty and confusion. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), nowadays called The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a department of Homeland Security (DHS), you will know exactly what I am talking about. Since my immigration process is still ongoing, I will not discuss specifics about my personal experiences in public using my own name.

The article I am linking to describes a DHS crackdown on “alien criminals” (sounds like a scene from Men in Black, doesn’t it?). The immigration laws in the US have restrictions on who can apply and retain immigrant status in the United States, and rightly so. One of those restrictions is immigrants can not commit crimes involving moral turpitude (conduct that shocks the public conscience) and if they do, they can be deported at any time. That’s all good and well, if it wasn’t for the “effectiveness” of how DHS applies it.

Since immigrants are not US citizens, they generally have little or no rights when they find themselves in the opposite side with the law. Abusing this fact, DHS regularly holds immigrants for months with no legal presentation while they are “processing their deportation documents”. In fact, immigrants have less rights than serial killers, war prisoners, and, yes, enemy combatants.

Like many detainees, Mr. Venant had passed through the New Jersey jail without being seen by Mr. Lonegan, the lone Legal Aid lawyer whose weekly legal clinics function as a kind of triage. Because immigration proceedings are officially civil, not criminal, those who cannot afford counsel have no right to a public defender, and legal volunteers are scarce.

“Everybody loves asylum cases, everybody loves to defend the Buddhist monk,” Mr. Lonegan said. “But the guy who’s got the green card, with a wife and child, here for 30 years, and is being deported for a nonviolent offense, and the punishment does not fit the crime, he does not get a lawyer.”

You wonder what sort of crimes are we talking about here. Well, the 20-year legal permanent resident (green card holder) whose situation was described in the article was using and selling fake metro cards in New York City. Might as well crack down on all NYU students, and jail them for months with no legal representation. For this horrible crime, he was sent to a Federal Detention Center in Lousiana generally used to house violent criminals to wait for his deportation, indefinitely, if needed.

For a nation built by immigrants that sure is an interesting way of treating immigrants.

-TPP – you are a descendant of an immigrant family, unless you are of native american heritage

1 Response to “All men are created equal, unless you’re an alien”

  • Thank you for serving our country, is what the immigration judge told my brother before they deported him to Canada. He was a legal permanent immigrant, in the country for 37 years. Had a well established life. In 2002, he gave a guy a ride, the ended up having paraphenalia on him. They were both charged,my brother was given probation. On Dec 14th, 2004, he was arrested by INS and told he was an aggravated felon. After doing some research, we found out that the civil court said it was not a conviction,but the government says it is. That’s when we learned about the 1996 immigration reform law. We hired a immigration lawyer, but his bond was rejected 3 times. After being incarcerated for 3 months and knowing that our family had exhaused our finances, my brother went back to Canada. Devastating, doesn’t begin to describe how our family is. A nightmare more describes it. Why, Why, is this happening in this country?

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