This week the New York Times published an editorial about the current state of immigration in the U.S. and how it is no longer acceptable for the U.S. government to continue putting this issue on the backburner. The article also highlights some of the horrific violations of civil rights that have occurred in deportation hearings.
…last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in an appalling last-minute ruling, declared that immigrants do not have the constitutional right to a lawyer in a deportation hearing and thus have no right to appeal on the grounds of bad legal representation. Mr. Mukasey overturned a decades-old practice designed to ensure robust constitutional protection for immigrants — one needed now more than ever in the days of the Bush administration’s assembly-line prosecutions.
This treatment of undocumented immigrants is beyond unacceptable. The U.S. can no longer stand for blatant disregard for the Constitution and disenfranchisement of these communities. The separation of families and communities should no longer be legally sanctioned by taking away the civil rights of undocumented Latino/as. This law supports the criminalization of women and further stigmatizes immigrant women. By criminalizing undocumented women and revoking their civil rights the government is abdicating responsibility of these women and is able to pass legislation reducing or restricting things like Medicaid for undocumented women. This mass disenfranchisement and criminalization of undocumented immigrants serves to further silence the voices of resistance from these communities.
We can only hope that the inauguration of Barack Obama, only one week away, will bring in a new era of more equitably treatment of undocumented immigrants and the end to violations of civil rights in the name of the U.S. government.
Contributed by Cecilia Marquez