In the latest CJ Project article published in New Mexico nonprofit news organization New Mexico in Depth, reporter Sarah Macaraeg explores the state of due process for immigrants awaiting trial. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case argues the length of time immigrants can be imprisoned while making their cases for asylum. While the discussion continues in America's highest court system, many immigration enforcement operations continue to expand.
“We’re stuck with this misdiagnosis of deportation as a civil penalty instead of what it actually is, which is a really harsh punishment. Because of that, a lot of the due process and constitutional protections that apply in criminal court don’t apply in immigration court,” says National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Policy Director Heidi Altman. “We have this huge pre-trial system where people are detained awaiting trial, against an adversarial government prosecutor.” The vast majority of people, she adds, are unable to get legal representation.
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Photo by Sarah Macaraeg