Thursday, June 2, 2011

Deception and Disorder in Immigration Court

Report Offers Solutions to Broken Appeals System

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing two weeks ago on the immigration courts, the Justice Department's appeals system for aliens challenging deportation. To contribute to this reassessment of an important component of America's immigration infrastructure, a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies examines the serious problems in our immigration courts and offer solutions to address them.

The report, “Built to Fail: Deception and Disorder in America's Immigration Courts,” is authored by Mark H. Metcalf. Metcalf is a former immigration judge and former Special Counsel at the Domestic Security Section within the Justice Department. The report as well as a transcript and video of the panel discussion are available online at the Center’s website.

Report: here

Transcript: here

Video: here

Metcalf's report finds that there are inherent flaws in the immigration courts that lead to widespread disregard of its rulings by the aliens who appear before them. What's more, Justice Department statistical reporting downplays these shortcomings, making solutions less likely. Metcalf also offers recommendations for reform.

Among the findings:

* Very few aliens who file lawsuits to remain in the United States are deported, even though immigration courts — after years of litigation — order them removed.

* Deportation orders are rarely enforced, even against aliens who skip court or ignore orders to leave the United States.

* Aliens evade immigration courts more often than accused felons evade state courts. Unlike accused felons, aliens who skip court are rarely caught.

* From 1996 through 2009, the United States allowed 1.9 million aliens to remain free before trial and 770,000 of them — 40 percent of the total — vanished. Nearly one million deportation orders were issued to this group — 78 percent of these orders were handed down for court evasion.

* From 2002 through 2006 — in the shadow of 9/11 — 50 percent of all aliens free pending trial disappeared. Court numbers show 360,199 aliens out of 713,974 dodged court.

* For years, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has grossly understated the number of aliens who evade court. In 2005 and 2006, DoJ said 39 percent of aliens missed court. Actually, 59 percent of aliens — aliens remaining free before trial — never showed.

* Since 1996, failures of aliens to appear in court have never dipped below 30 percent.

* Immigration judges cannot enforce their own orders. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials may order alien offenders arrested and deported. Immigration judges — the system’s sole judicial officers — have no such authority. Judges seldom know if their orders are enforced.

* No single federal agency is exclusively tasked with enforcement of removal orders. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executes removal orders only when its enforcement strategy says so, not — as it should — in obedience to court orders. ICE’s enforcement strategy does not mention immigration courts or deportation orders.

* Enforcement of deportation orders is now nearly non-existent. Removal orders are not enforced unless aliens have committed serious crimes.

* Unexecuted removal orders are growing. As of 2002, 602,000 deportation orders had not been enforced. Since then, another 507,551 have been added to the rolls. Today, unexecuted removal orders number approximately 1,109,551 — an 84 percent increase since 2002.

* U.S. immigration courts rule in favor of aliens 60 percent of the time. DoJ suggests aliens win 20 percent of the time.

* The Department of Justice tells Congress that aliens appeal deportation orders only 8 percent of the time. In fact, over the last 10 years aliens appealed deportation orders 98 percent of the time.

* Since 1990, immigration court budgets have increased 823 percent with taxpayers footing the entire bill. Aliens pay no more to file their cases today than they did in 1990.

* From 2000 through 2007, tax dollars — slightly more than $30 million — paid aliens’ court costs. Taxpayers underwrote the appeals of aliens ordered removed for criminal convictions and fraudulent marriages.

* U.S. immigration judges carry huge caseloads. In 2006 — the courts’ busiest year ever — 233 judges completed 407,487 matters. All work of DoJ’s trial and appellate lawyers combined equaled only 289,316. By comparison, federal district and circuit courts, with 1,271 judges, completed 414,375 matters.

* Aliens face the real prospect of not receiving a fair trial. DoJ’s attorney discipline scheme — a scheme applicable only to the alien’s lawyer — denies aliens the right to effective assistance of counsel and fair trial.

* The only possible way the Justice Department’s misrepresentations will be corrected is for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit America’s immigration courts.

* An Article I court — a court created through Congress’s constitutional authority over immigration — is the surest solution for those fleeing persecution, while balancing America’s fundamental interest in secure borders and an effective immigration system.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Steven Camarota, (202) 466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Lawns with Greek statues, a computer suite, hairdressing lessons... inside Britain's newest holding centre for illegals

Its manicured lawns and gravel paths decorated with stone statues would look at home in even the grandest of rural estates. But Morton Hall is not a plush country pad – it is the Government’s latest centre for foreign detainees awaiting deportation.

The immigration removal centre, in Swinderby, Lincolnshire, will eventually house around 400 men, including former prisoners, illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers.

New arrivals will be greeted by impressive lawns and extensive gardens, patrolled by a flock of ducks. They will be housed in private rooms with access to television, games consoles and private washing facilities.

Detainees can sign up to lessons in a well-equipped computer classroom and even hairdressing classes in a mock salon. And if they fancy some downtime, they can play football in the grounds, take a walk or simply sit on a bench and enjoy the view.

Even the centre’s menu offers detainees something a bit special, featuring dishes inspired by global cuisine – from Greek feta quiche and Afghani marinated chicken to Nigerian fried plantain and Egyptian falafel.

Immigration Minister Damian Green triggered a furious row last night as he unveiled the centre, a former women’s prison on the site of an old RAF base.

Critics said taxpayers will be angry that their money has been spent on conditions some hard-working families struggle to afford for themselves.

Emma Boon, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the costs of opening and running immigration removal centres ‘need to be kept under control’. She said: ‘Immigration removal centres are for people who have no right to be in the UK. ‘Taxpayers will be angry that their money is being spent on top-of-the-range equipment and grand surroundings like landscaped gardens for those detained.

Tory MP James Clappison, a member of the home affairs committee, also questioned whether the cost of the conditions could be justified. "Of course detainees should be safe and use their time productively before returning home, but this does not require a level of facilities that some hard-working families in the community outside the centre do not have access to themselves' He said: ‘People should be treated decently and humanely but at the time of public spending constraint that should not extend as far as standards that are beyond the reach of ordinary taxpayers.’

The Government said the new centre would increase the nation’s capacity to hold illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers to 3,400. Like Colnbrook near Heathrow and Yarl’s Wood on the outskirts of Clapham, Bedfordshire, it holds people with no legal right to be in the UK who refuse to leave. Speaking as he opened Morton Hall, Mr Green said it will ‘help us remove more individuals who have no right to be here’. He said: ‘We all know the present Government inherited a chaotic immigration system. We’re getting to grips with it.’

Officials refused to disclose how much Morton Hall cost to refurbish or operate. An official report into a smaller detention centre, which held just 124 people, found it cost £1.6million every year.

The opening comes after the Prime Minister’s pledge to reduce net migration – those entering the country minus those leaving – to tens of thousands by 2015 was threatened by figures released last week. They revealed net migration hit 242,000 in the year to September 2010, the third highest on record.


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