Values: Everyone deserves a fair day in court
In a fair system of justice, anyone who goes before a judge deserves the opportunity to present a defense and get a full hearing, regardless of immigration status
The Problem: The criminal justice and immigration systems treat immigrants unfairly
It’s widely acknowledged that that the US criminal justice system disproportionately and unfairly targets people of color, including immigrants, with hyper-aggressive policing and prosecution. Immigrants swept up in this system face the risk of further punishment through detention and deportation, while being routinely denied basic due process protections.
- The right to counsel: Unlike defendants in the criminal justice system, immigrants without resources to hire a lawyer have no guaranteed right to legal representation; as a result, more than half of individuals in immigration court proceedings are currently unrepresented
- The right to a fair hearing: Immigration law mandates detention and deportation for a large number of specific offenses, denying immigrants the right to a hearing where a judge considers all the circumstances of their cases before reaching a decision. Judges are essentially forced to order deportation, regardless of any mitigating or humanitarian considerations
- The right to challenge detention: Immigrants can be locked up for years without bond while they fight their deportation cases, compromising their ability to mount an effective defense.
- The right to a proportionate sanction: Immigrants detained and deported for past convictions are punished twice over: having already paid their debt to society in the criminal justice system, they are then banished for life from their homes, families, and communities. Immigration penalties often surpass the criminal sanctions for these offenses.
- The right to judicial review: For immigrants, the opportunity to appeal detention or deportation decisions are extremely limited
- The right to equal treatment: Under criminal law, the government must bring criminal or civil charges against an individual within a specific time period or forfeit the right to prosecute. This “statute of limitation” does not exist in immigration law, where an individual may be charged with an offense no matter when it was committed and even if the offense was not a crime at the time. Thus, a key protection afforded criminal defendants is denied immigrants.
Solution: Restore fairness and due process to immigration justice
IDP calls for an end to mass detention and deportation practices. No immigrant should be detained or deported without a fair hearing. We call on the federal government to:
- End mandatory detention and deportation and the “bed quota” requiring that the US government hold 34,000 immigrants in detention on any given day
- At minimum, limit the range of offenses that trigger detention and deportation
- Allow immigrants in detention to post reasonable bond
- Restore judicial discretion so that a judge can weigh all the circumstances of a case in deciding whether to order someone deported
- Afford non-citizens the right to effective counsel
- Apply a statute of limitations to criminal offenses for immigration purposes