HEADLINES: Immigration

Published On: Donate

Chicago’s Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has thrown cold water on a proposal by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton that would set up a “working group” to resolve differences over the county’s refusal to hold suspected undocumented immigrants after they post bail. Preckwinkle says she is willing to meet with Morton to discuss the issue, even as she expresses “strong reservations” about holding people for ICE without a warrant after a judge has ordered them to be released. The County Board president was responding to an earlier Morton letter in which he proposed covering the costs of both putting ICE agents inside the jail and holding people on immigration detainers until his agency can take custody. Those steps would open up the county to legal action and violate people’s rights, Preckwinkle wrote. Although in the past she expressed concerns about costs, Preckwinkle said Tuesday that she now is more concerned with the legal issues. [Chicago Tribune]

On March 23rd the Rutgers University School of Law in Newark, NJ hosted the conference, “Immigrant Detainees: Alone, Unrepresented & Imprisoned,” in partnership with other area law schools, NGOs and the law firms of Lowenstein Sandler PC and Gibbons PC.  This full-day conference focused on problems in the U.S. immigration detention system, including inappropriate jail-like conditions, inadequate use of alternatives to detention, the impact of mandatory detention laws that prevent decisions to detain from being made on a case-by-case basis, and challenges immigration detainees face accessing legal counsel.  The event coincided with the release of a report, “Immigration Incarceration: The Expansion and Failed Reform of Immigration Detention in Essex County, NJ,” by New York University School of Law’s immigrant-rights clinic, in cooperation with the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees. According to the report, “[e]very indicator of the conditions and treatment of immigrant detainees in Essex County shows a detention system that is failing to meet the bare minimum of humane treatment and due process.” [Human Rights First]

Federal officials provided “unclear and conflicting responses to inquiries and concerns” related to the federal immigration program known as Secure Communities that Governor Andrew Cuomo opted out of last year, according to a new report. Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency did not intentionally mislead the public, the report finds, it did cause states confusion over whether the federal program aimed at identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants was mandatory. After some contradicting statements related to whether the program was mandatory, ICE said last year states could not opt-out of the program and that it would be implemented nationwide by 2013. Cuomo withdrew New York from the Secure Communities program, noting that it failed to meet its stated goal to “deport serious felons.” Critics of the program argued that it ensnared victims of domestic violence, individuals with no criminal record and low-level offenders. [WNYC]

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