A newly released NYC Know Your Rights report from New York City Bar Justice Center claims that 39% of immigrant detainees at the Varick detention facility in New York have ways to adjust their status. They are only allegedly ‘illegal aliens.’ Of the 250 kidnapped by the U.S. government, 100 detainees were jailed without facing charges while working on a $1 per day, however, the Department of Homeland Security sees the jail as a ‘good model’ to emulate.
The NYC project could only help 10 detainees per week. 27 of the detainees were lawful permanent residents while some had claims to relief for being born to citizen parents. 39% have claims to adjustment of status via cancellation of removal; asylum; withholding of removal, and/or relief under the Convention Against Torture, non-immigrant visas including U and S visas, 212(c) relief; and adjustment of status under 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Labeling someone an ‘illegal alien’ and throwing her/him in detention violates the basic tenet of our criminal justice system: innocent till proven guilty. The immigrant detainees also lack access to counsel so oftentimes, they do not know that they qualify for adjustment of status. Even 90% of those with bond set cannot afford to pay and remain in detention.
The stupidity of discarding due process and deporting people who have established themselves in this country and may have claims to citizenship, goes beyond saying “they broke a law.” Disregarding the fact that illegal presence is a misdemeanor and some of these immigrant detainees never broke any laws, even those who commit heinous crimes in this country are given the right to a fair trial in front of a jury.
The New York Times blogs reports that the Varick Street Detention Facility takes in 11,000 men a year, most of whom are longtime New Yorkers facing deportation without a lawyer. Hence, the report recommends a government-appointed counsel for detainees who cannot afford an attorney. The sounds fair enough given that every resident of the United States has the right to due process regardless of citizenship and lack of government-endorsed paperwork.
(Photo Credit: Gothamist)