Due Process and Due Profits

rini border fence

As the Attorney General continues his attack on due process in immigration courts, immigration enforcement continues to enrich GEO Group and other for-profit prison corporations. The latest: a massive increase in the use of electronic shackles for asylum seekers and others released while awaiting hearings means huge profits for GEO Group, which supplies the shackles and manages monitoring and check-ins. The American Bar Association says asylum seekers should not be shackled, calling the practice  “a form of restriction on liberty similar to detention, rather than a meaningful alternative to detention.” 

Monitoring social media, immigrants, and citizens: The National Immigration Law Center sketches an outline of expanded screening for immigrants and expanded monitoring that reaches beyond immigrants applying for visas. Some proposed monitoring would extend to naturalized citizens, while social media monitoring would include “records related to the analysis of relationship patterns among individuals and organizations.” Relationship patterns? Individuals and organizations? Doesn’t sound like there’s any limit contemplated.

Undoing Due Process: Sessions has ordered limits on immigration judges’ discretion to grant continuances, as well as reopening 8,000 administratively closed cases and announcing its intention to open 350,000 more. That’s in addition to the 700,000+ backlog of cases currently open.

Then there’s the three-hearings-a-day rule, ordered to begin October 1. Buzzfeed notes:

“Pierce said some hearings, such as asylum hearings, may require detailed testimony that can make the case stretch on for hours.

“By mandating three merits hearings a day the court would be placing unrealistic pressures on immigration judges, which will certainly have negative after effects on the due process rights of the foreign nationals in their courtrooms,” she said.

“Until now, how many hearings a judge schedules each day has been up to the judges themselves. Often, judges schedule two such hearings a day, experts say.”

A more personal example: Here’s how the Sessions version of due process already works in practice:

“Malik and Zahida are a middle-aged couple, originally from Pakistan, who have been in the United States for almost twenty years. They arrived as asylum seekers in 2000, and the first two attorneys they hired both absconded with their money—more than sixteen thousand dollars in total—and were later prosecuted for fraud. Over subsequent years, Malik and Zahida consulted eight more attorneys. In 2008, immigration officials denied their asylum application. They filed an appeal, which was rejected in 2010. Immigration officials then began court proceedings to remove them from the United States.

“In 2012, Roniya was born; she is an American citizen. In 2014, Malik and Zahida gained protection under an executive action concerning enforcement priorities signed by President Obama. Immigrants who had committed no crimes and who had played by the rules—working and paying taxes, for example—were not prioritized for deportation. Then, in 2017, the Trump Administration reversed the executive action, and deportation proceedings were started against Malik and Zahida.”

With deportation ordered, the couple and their daughter are now residing in sanctuary in a church in Connecticut.

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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