With separate process, ICE arrests generate more scrutiny

Photograph by John Moore / Getty as reported by The New Yorker, 11/8/17.

Photograph by John Moore / Getty as reported by
The New Yorker,
11/8/17.

It’s increasingly likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will end up reviewing the procedures used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immigration arrests, according to experts who see this area of law growing more contentious.

The process for ICE arrests is “one of the most complicated areas of immigration law,” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Public Radio International.

In an April 12 report, PRI noted, “Broadly, the only evidence that an ICE officer needs to arrest a person is their identification and proof that they are not a citizen.”

One reason for the disparity is that ICE procedures often take place in civil courts.

The New Yorker chronicled the case of Sergio Perez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who was in the United States as an undocumented immigrant before his arrest by ICE.

“Because immigration-removal proceedings are generally carried out under civil laws, they are exempt from many procedures mandated in criminal cases,” the New Yorker explained. “For example, the warrants that ICE uses to arrest unauthorized immigrants like Perez aren’t reviewed by a judge; they’re just written up by ICE office supervisors. Immigrant detainees don’t have a constitutional right to a lawyer. Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure don’t always apply when ICE agents investigate a target for arrest, because the cases typically don’t involve a criminal prosecution.”

Public Radio International cited an upswing in ICE activity under President Trump as one reason for the growing attention.

“From the day Donald Trump took office through Sept. 30, 2017, ICE arrests increased by 42 percent compared to the same time period the year before, according to an analysis of government data by Pew Research,” PRI reported. “Officers have been more aggressive in their tactics, too. They have shown up in courtrooms, conducted worksite sweeps and confronted people in their homes without warrants. Immigration lawyers say there is an increased need for immigrants’ legal protections to be reconsidered. ‘This is a brewing question that is becoming more intense,’ says University of Las Vegas law professor Michael Kagan.”

The legal status of undocumented immigrants took center stage earlier this year.

In February, National Public Radio reported on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to bond hearings.

California court backlogs persist in civil, criminal arenas

Photo Credit: Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times as reported on 5/10/14.

Photo Credit: Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times as reported on 5/10/14.

Budget cuts have contributed to delays in the processing of civil cases in California Superior Courts, a television news investigation revealed.

NBC Bay Area reported on the problem five years ago, confirming a situation covered by the state’s other major media.

And earlier this year, the news station revisited the crisis, noting that criminal cases also are caught up in the backlog.

“An NBC Bay Area analysis of state court disposition data shows thousands of felony criminal cases have been delayed for years, and sometimes even decades, in jurisdictions around California,” NBC Bay Area reported in February. “The analysis shows Santa Clara County Superior Court and San Francisco County Superior Court have some of the largest criminal court backlogs and the lowest percentage of felony cases resolved within a year in the state.”

In 2013, NBC Bay Area delved into the situation, noting, “Thousands of Californians, including residents of the Bay Area, must wait up to four times as long as normal to get their day in court. Some residents now wait five years or longer to have their civil complaints heard by a judge or jury. Some residents are dying while waiting for their day in court.”

NBC Bay Area conducted an analysis of state Superior Court data, showing delays in every one of the state’s 58 Superior Court systems.

“In all nine Bay Area county Superior Courts, the Unit found longer delays in processing and scheduling of civil cases on their calendars. … The reason: years and years of budget cuts to the court system, the third branch of government, by the state legislature in Sacramento. According to state court officials, across the state, 175 courtrooms have been closed due to budget cuts.”

In 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported on similar backlogs to civil cases.

“Civil cases are facing growing delays in getting to trial, and court closures have forced residents in some counties to drive several hours for an appearance. The effects vary from county to county, with rural regions hit the hardest but no court left unscathed,” the newspaper reported.