Hundreds of U.S. Citizens Are Being Detained Illegally – By the U.S.
A new analysis shows that the U.S. government has detained more than 260 U.S. citizens for weeks up to years, just for asserting that they are legal U.S. citizens.
The study was conducted by Northwestern University’s Deportation Research Clinic, based on data finally turned over to the researchers there in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The U.S. government organization doing the illegal detention was the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service. The place they held their illegal detainees was primarily in private prisons contracted to by ICE.
During the period covered by the FOIA request, U.S. government data shows that, between January 1, 2011 and June 9, 2017, immigration judges set rescheduled hearings for 1,714 cases after those the government was trying to deport claimed they were U.S. citizens. More than 650 of those claims succeeded. Despite that so-called success, however, the average time for the U.S. citizens to be detained was 180 days.
This is not exactly the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ platitude we have all been sold as U.S. citizens. Except – that is precisely the catch. ICE apparently feels it can operate above the law since these people it is detaining are not proven yet to be U.S. citizens.
Worse still, other findings also revealed how critical it appeared to be to have a lawyer. 30 percent of those who responded claiming they were citizens managed to prove their case and stay in the U.S. Only 17 percent of those who did not have legal representation were able to block eventual deportation.
All this is going on even though it is illegal for ICE to hold U.S. Citizens in detention. They have no such authority. Doing so is a direct violation of the detainees’ Constitutional Rights.
Jacqueline Stevens, director of the Deportation Research Clinic and professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (WCAS) at Northwestern University, said about the study that, “The new data show that the detention of U.S. citizens is not just a possibility, but a persistent fact.”
John Morton, the ICE assistant director in 2013, responded to early information coming based on Stevens’ research by saying that the agency had put in place “new safeguards to protect against the possibility of a citizen’s detainment or removal”.
Stevens is clearly skeptical that enough will have changed to stop the illegal detention practice by ICE. She plans to release her analysis to the public later this year.