They sit and wait. They are immigrants who have come to the United States seeking asylum, as well as undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. They sit and wait in detention centers (including one here in San Diego) because they are not given the opportunity to post bond. And they sit and wait now for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Since 2010, Haitians immigranting to the United States received special protections. The impoverished country suffered a massive earthquake and other natural disasters at that time, prompting thousands to flee to a safer place. The federal government lifted those safeguards in September, and anyone arriving in the country after that was sent to immigrantion detention to be processed for deportation and removal. A recent influx of immigrants from Haiti has caused the government to rethink this policy.
Their home in Haiti is beset with immense problems that include natural disasters (a hurricane and earthquake), crime, corruption, gangs and violence. But the Haitians who arrive at the San Diego border and ask officials for asylum quickly find themselves held in detention centers.
A Guatemalan woman brought her three children to the U.S. border to escape the violence and chaos that had overtaken their country. When she spoke with an immigrantion officer at the border, she told him they had come for asylum.
Immigrants who come to the United States face a number of challenges. These start with the hardships suffered to gain access to the country. After successfully making it onto American soil, obtaining the legal rights to stay is not an easy task. While many undocumented immigrants can live under the radar for some time, the fear of deportation is ever present. Those who are picked up by immigration enforcement may feel there is little they can do, but legal representation for detainees is available and may actually help immigrants in their fight to remain in the country -- whether that is in California or elsewhere.
As an influx of immigrant children continue to enter states all across the country, including California, government officials are looking for ways to offer them the protection for which they have come. These children are coming without parents and most do not have family support in the country. A bill recently introduced in Congress would provide legal representation for detainees, namely these children, in an effort to provide them with the support they desperately need.
A man who came to the United States with his mother at age two, and who speaks only English is sitting in an immigration prison while appealing an order for his deportation. And, although his mother became a citizen, his eight younger siblings are all citizens, and his wife of 33 years and their four children were all born in California, he never went through the citizenship procedure. So far, the courts have denied his asylum claim.
California immigrants accused of a crime may have to wait a lengthy period of time before receiving any legal assistance. Sometimes an immigrant could be deported before ever receiving the help they need and in other cases they may have been involved in a crime and could serve as a witness to help in a criminal trial. Either way, many of these people are deported by the United States government before they ever receive the chance to testify or defend their own innocence. Representation for detainees is a right, and now defense lawyers across the country are crying foul at what they perceive to be a grave injustice.