Immigration agents should not be above the law

No warrants, no consent, no lawyers — that’s the story told by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s first-person report on raids targeting Central American mothers and children in January.

Here’s part of Ana Silvia’s story:

“Ana Silvia shook with fear as ICE agents stood outside her apartment door. She was enduring what so many other women and children had experienced in the past 24 hours during these raids. She awoke to banging on her door. There were ICE agents saying they were only there because of her electronic ankle shackle.

“Ana Silvia was confused because she had just changed the batteries on her shackle, and she had appointments to check in with ICE twice in January. When she attempted to use her cellphone to call her lawyer about the raid, an agent took the phone away from her. ICE agents told her she wasn’t being deported.”

They lied. She and her four children, ages 3 to 17, were shipped to Dilley, Texas to await deportation. The SPLC report includes an audio recording of the raid and the agent’s lies, made by Ana Silvia’s mother.

This article cross-posted from my Immigration News blog. If you want to follow more immigration coverage, subscribe to Immigration News.

Mothers whose stories are told in the report describe ICE agents banging on their doors in predawn hours. Sometimes the agents lie, claiming to be local police searching for a fugitive. The agents show them photos of a young black man, supposedly a dangerous criminal they are seeking. The ICE agents pretend to be local police and demand to enter, ignore refusals, and push their way in. Once inside, they identify as ICE agents, seize frightened mothers and children and take them away to be deported. The details of the seven mothers’ stories differ, but their terror is the same.

Immigrants are particularly susceptible to abuses by law enforcement, whether the agents of authority are ICE personnel or others. BuzzFeed last week uncovered a particularly nasty abuse perpetrated by the FBI.

For first-person stories of seven women arrested in the raids, read Families in Fear: The Atlanta Immigration Raids from the SPLC.

According to the Center for American Progress on February 1, “news reports suggest that the raids are continuing, even targeting unaccompanied children as well.”

SPLC says the raids must halt and then “Congress should investigate not only the apparent constitutional violations committed by ICE agents during these raids but misconduct in other aspects of immigration enforcement as well.” ImmigrationProf blogger Kevin Johnson, Dean of UC-Davis law school, says that “no person who seeks asylum in the United States should be rushed to deportation. All those picked up in a raid, for example, should have their cases reviewed by a competent attorney to ensure that they have truly exhausted all of their legal options for protection.” Like other immigration attorneys and judges, he points to the overwhelming caseload overload of immigration courts as a barrier to justice and due process, repeating National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Leigh Marks’ comparison of immigration hearings to “death penalty cases heard in traffic court settings.”

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