A recent report from ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed numerous cases in which ICE agents and police officers allegedly used racial profiling, conducted warrantless searches, detained people without probable cause, fabricated evidence, and, in one extreme instance, attempted to solicit a bribe.
Despite these allegations, not a single ICE agent or officer has been put on the stand to speak about what they have been accused of. Because immigration courts focus on whether a person should be removed from the country, the conduct of arresting officers is rarely scrutinized. Furthermore, immigrants have fewer rights than criminal defendants because they are forced into civil proceedings where they can’t challenge the way they were apprehended.
Immigrants who are facing deportation do not have the right to a government-provided lawyer, which means they are very unlikely to challenge their arrest. Without experienced legal representation, detained immigrants are 10 times less likely to win their cases. Once they have been deported, the allegations about officer misconduct disappear along with them.
Advocates for immigrants say that many of the arrests in Pennsylvania have been unlawful and would not hold up in a regular court of law. Unlike police involved in criminal court proceedings, ICE officers rarely need to appear in immigration court to explain or defend their arrests. ICE officers’ first names are often omitted from arrest forms or blacked out altogether. Requests to provide the government’s evidence of “alienage” are sometimes never produced at all.
Immigrants detained in York face the challenge of having their bond request considered, and often have to wait months behind bars if they want to assert that their rights have been violated. Although immigrant arrests can be challenged, the standard is much higher than it would be in criminal court. Defendants have to prove that ICE officers acted unconstitutionally and that their violations were egregious or represented a widespread pattern. To respond to this, lawyers have been encouraged by the American Immigration Council to use motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence.
Our attorney, Rosina C. Stambaughhas had to deal with the ICE’s misconduct first-hand. Last April, 10 Alcoholics Anonymous members were arrested in Pennsylvania while driving to New York. A state trooper pulled over their van for speeding, asked the passengers about their immigration status, and then detained them for more than an hour until ICE showed up. The driver, who was a legal immigrant, was given a ticket and released, while everyone else in the vehicle was arrested and faced deportation.
Attorney Stambaugh, represented six of the men and decided to challenge the arrests as unconstitutional. She argued that the trooper did not have the legal authority to enforce immigration law and improperly prolonged a traffic stop. She also argued that the men were illegally detained without warrants. However, while preparing her motion to suppress, an immigration judge decided the men would have to stay locked up. The judge would end up rejecting the motion to suppress evidence after the men had been locked up for 3 months. In his decision, the judge wrote, “This court has no authority to conduct an inquiry into the State Trooper’s actions.”
To learn more about ICE and police misconduct in Pennsylvania, read this article.
Detained immigrants face an uphill battle when they find themselves in court. Because immigration court proceedings can be confusing and frustrating, it is important to make sure you have experienced legal representation by your side.
At The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh, our attorney is familiar with all kinds of immigration cases and knows what to expect during your court proceedings. She can review your case and help you create legal strategy that will protect your rights.
Contact our York immigration lawyer to request your consultation today.