US, UK can do more than removal of non-citizens

Letters to the Editor

US, UK can do more than removal of non-citizens

Monday, February 17, 2020

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Dear Editor,

“It is the right of every nation State to decide who can stay within its territories or borders and under what conditions.” (United Nations, 2004)

Based on that premise, deportation becomes necessary and a foreigner can be deported from any country of which he/she is not a citizen or national.

In the past, by acting in their own interest, a 1996 US immigration statute that classified certain crimes, or a term of imprisonment of at least a year as aggravated felony, resulted in millions of non-citizens getting expelled from that country and becoming inadmissible thereafter.

It is the duty of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take these individuals into custody and process them for removal to their native countries. The strict immigration statute was signed into law by US President William “Bill” Clinton.

So President Trump certainly isn't the first president to inflict the wrath of ICE and that of its frequent partner, the Department of Health and Human Services, upon the immigrant population. Still, his broadside and fearmongering narrative, particularly around the border and elsewhere, has coincided with increased efforts to further weaponise these agencies and their related counterparts.

Despite the concerted and aggressive enforcement of the unforgiving law; by a decree, the US attorney general, as well as the Supreme and other Federal courts, acting in their jurisdictions, have enacted ways in which non-citizens can challenge the removals or inadmissibility and become successful if they meet the strict requirements. Despite those rulings, non-citizens are faced with a number of challenges in becoming successful with the petitions that vary because ICE moves people around to various locations, and aggravated felons are removed expeditiously from the country.

It is very difficult for non-citizens who are living overseas to submit petitions in US courts and be successful.

Between highly publicised aggressive actions by ICE on the ground across the country, and the tactical conflation by partisan policymakers of asylum seekers and Dreamers with violent criminals and terrorists, it's a terrifying time for the millions of black and brown people living in the US no matter what stage of the immigration process they're at.

Though ICE touts itself as a force for good, citing its efforts against human trafficking and transnational criminal organisations, it rightfully faces mounting criticism for its actions and facilities. Predominantly black and brown migrants are held in centres across the country after they have been arrested by ICE at their homes, places of employment, and even during meetings with immigration officials. Once detained, they're reportedly subjected to detention and separation from families.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), most of those held in these places don't even have legal representation — a harsh reality about how lacking the material means for an immigration defence can have grave consequences.

Oswald Dawkins of Jamaican non-profit National Organization for Deported Migrants stated that about 1,500 people are, in fact, involuntarily returned to Jamaica yearly from the US, Canada, and the UK, with many of those affected being over the age of 40.

As a deported person, I strongly believe that, despite the fact that deportees are viewed as 'undesirables', the US and UK can do more in order to erase the obstacles faced by many after a final removal.

Charlie Brown

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