Early in the new Obama administration, the President promised the Latin American community that the government would cease its program of randomly picking up people who appeared undocumented. The President stated that the government would only focus on aliens with criminal records. Sadly, this promise has been broken. In fact the Obama administration has been more active in arresting immigrants than the Bush administration.
CRITICAL REPORT BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Commission last week issued a scathing commentary on how the government is encouraging state and country official to arrest immigrants without probable cause or reasonable suspicion in disregard of appropriate restraints, and in failing to provide sufficient access to lawyers and adequate medical care at immigration facilities. State and country officials have not been alerted by the Federal government to avoid arresting persons because of race, or color or merely because they appear to be foreign. As a result the Constitution’s protections of due process has not been followed, namely that a person may not be apprehended unless caught in the act of committing a crime or that the officer has probable cause to believe the person involved has committed a crime or there is reasonable suspicion to believe so.
IMMIGRANTS WHO ARE BEING ARRESTED
Almost unanimously the persons being arrested are not convicted felons. Our office has been deluged with calls indicating that over the entire country, from California to Texas to Georgia, to New York, that persons who appear foreign are being apprehended. We have received word from spouses, children, and parents, that their immediate relatives are being arrested on trains, or buses, at airports, or as passengers in cars. Some have been picked up driving without licenses or for minor infractions such as going through a light. The retributive effect is that they are all turned over to immigration and are treated as if they were hardened criminals. This has created panic in the Latin communities throughout the nation. American spouses, American children, and even American parents have all been affected.
The study made by the Commission or Human Rights, an international organization of considerable stature throughout the world, has recommended that the government cancel its current immigrant arrest program. The administration has answered that it will renovate its immigrant’s centers currently holding immigrants to make then more appropriate and also that it will explore alternatives to detention. The Commission has responded that it doesn’t yet know if these proposals will satisfy intentional standards of human rights. The commission is adopting a stance of wait and see. If you have been involved with an illegal arrest or someone whom you know, you are welcome to call us for help.
If you need help or advise, call us at 212-944-9420.