Friday, November 14, 2008

Rules? What Rules?

There's an interesting editorial in today's Los Angeles Times. A program which allows those undocumented immigrants in custody for whatever reason to stipulate to immediate deportation has suddenly become wildly successful:

In the last few years, the number of illegal immigrants in detention who waived their right to plead their case to remain in the United States has shot up from 5,500 in 2004 to 35,000 this year. In all, nearly 100,000 people have agreed to leave the country under "stipulated removal."

So, what's the problem? After all, the deal is a good one for both sides, right? Rather than sit in detention for months, perhaps even years, the 'illegal' can choose to just go back home immediately. As a result, the taxpayers save a lot of money by not having to house, feed, and monitor the miscreant. Perfect.

Uh, no, not so perfect. As the editorial points out, many of these undocumented immigrants have good arguments for being allowed to stay in the US, yet it is not clear that they have been advised of those rights. In fact, it is unclear just what guidelines the government has been operating under in dealing with those immigrants under the "stipulated removal" program.

Immigrant rights organizations have consequently filed a law suit seeking to compel the government to reveal those guidelines:

...Wednesday, three nonprofit legal organizations filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, asking the court to compel the government to turn over documents under the Freedom of Information Act. According to one internal memo wrested from the government, such records ought to exist. It says that field offices are to "establish consistent written procedures for reviewing and approving stipulated removal orders." If they are established, why aren't these written procedures available?

The editorialist has a few more questions for the government, and they are right on the mark:

Here's what we need to know: How are immigrants informed of their rights, and how are those rights being upheld? For example, are victims of crimes, people who face persecution at home or immigrants with family members who are U.S. citizens apprised that they may have unique circumstances that would allow them to stay? Are they warned that a deportation will be on their permanent record and that reentering the U.S. could trigger criminal penalties? And is the process standardized across the nation?

What I suspect is that the government may have formulated rules, and then promptly put them away somewhere. After all, it's the government. Rules are only for the little people, i.e., the rest of us. I also think that Grover Norquist was lying when he talked about "shrinking" government, at least if the Bush administration is any measure of that philosophy. What he really meant is that the government's duty to serve those it governs was going to shrink. Governmental power? Eh, not so much.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What he really meant is that the government's duty to serve those it governs was going to shrink. Governmental power? Eh, not so much.

Grover and company bought their own b.s. about a permanent rethuglican majority. Expect 180 degree hypocrisy from them.

4:22 AM  

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