Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Obama Administration Makes National Security Argument to Deny Bonds to Central Americans


John Stanton on BuzzFeed reports on a troubling development -- the Obama administration is using a Bush-era ruling by Attorney General John Ashcroft to classify the recent wave of undocumented immigrants that have hit the southern border as a “national security threat” in an effort to deny them bond during removal hearings. Immigration attorneys said the argument has been employed against undocumented immigrant mothers with children being held at the Artesia, New Mexico, detention facility.

During a Tuesday hearing viewed by BuzzFeed, a Department of Homeland Security attorney used the national security argument as part of her successful opposition to a bond request by an El Salvadoran mother and her child, who are in detention. In her statement against granting bond, the administration attorney argued that the current “mass migration” crisis has been “recognized as a national security threat by the [attorney general] … [and] it will encourage human trafficking.” The national security claim is based on an April 17, 2003 ruling by Ashcroft known as the “Matter of D- J.” In that case, which involved an immigrant from Haiti, Ashcroft ruled against granting a bond:

"I further conclude that the release on bond of undocumented seagoing migrant aliens from Haiti without adequate background screening or investigation presents a risk to national security that provides additional grounds for denying respondent’s release on bond. This consideration is fortified by the State Department’s assertion that it has observed an increase in aliens from countries such as Pakistan using Haiti as a staging point for migration to the United States. Under the current circumstances of a declared National Emergency, the Government’s capacity to promptly undertake an exhaustive factual investigation concerning the individual status of hundreds of undocumented aliens is sharply limited and strained to the limit. Under these circumstances, it is reasonable to make a determination that aliens arriving under the circumstances presented by the October 29 influx should be detained rather than released on bond. There is substantial risk that granting release on bond to such large groups of undocumented aliens may inclu de persons who present a threat to the national security, as well as a substantial risk of disappearance into the alien community within the United States."


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