Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Are Deportation Hearings Unconstitutional?: A View of SF Immigration Court from the East Bay Express
In this article published by the East Bay Express, Darwin Bond Graham (twitter: @darwinbondgraha) asks, "Are Deportation Hearings in the Bay Area Unconstitutional?" The piece presents a series of case examples from the San Francisco Immigration Court (which is often seen as a more immigrant-friendly jurisdiction compared to other immigration courts across the country), and illustrates the problem with a legal system in which immigrants routinely to do not have lawyers. These problems include individuals who give up their legal defenses out of desperation to leave immigration detention; the fact that the government is represented in every case (and the fact that the regular presence of a government lawyer in the courtroom allows for rapport-building opportunities between that lawyer and the immigration judge); and the variations in decisionmaking amongst immigration judges, particularly in asylum cases.
The article is a solid read and makes a good case for why universal representation programs, funded by local or state governments, could be a critical tool to restore an otherwise deeply flawed and broken immigration court system.