Immigration in 2011 – Part 6 of 10, Limiting the Opportunity for a Fair Hearing and Due Process

Sixth part of our ten part series examining the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) publication of “What to Watch Out for in Immigration in 2011.”

Topic #6: Limiting the Opportunity for a Fair Hearing and Due Process

One of the most basic and fundamental rights we as citizens have been afforded is access to the court system and equal judgment under the law. In the immigration system, the idea of due process and the right to a fair trial have been disregarded.

Since 1996, legislation has been passed prohibiting the rights of both legal and undocumented immigrants in the court system. The passing of such laws has allowed individuals to be removed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) without as much as a court hearing. Even now the decisions made by DHS concerning the removal and judicial treatment of immigrants are only able to be narrowly reviewed by federal district courts. Further, restrictions have been proposed recently that if passed would prohibit individuals applying for citizenship from appealing their case to the federal courts and would expand summary deportations.

AILA outlined some pertinent reasons to ensure both undocumented and legal immigrants are granted the right to a fair hearing and due process. Limiting the rights of immigrants eliminates the “checks” in the “checks and balances” of our government. Additionally, it gives too much responsibility to immigration officers who can change the lives of immigrants instantly with a decision to deport them. The number of deportations of asylum seekers and individuals who should rightfully remain in the U.S. will also rise with the increase in use of summary deportations.

If you have any ideas on how best to fix our broken immigration system, we welcome your comments and suggestions…