Undocumented immigrants in the United States is one of the most controversial topics we hear about on a day to day basis, and how we tackle the issue is constantly changing as a result. It does not help that the still-young Trump administration seems intent on all but stemming the flow of immigrants into the country, for whatever the reason. In addition, the president has helped ICE speed up the process of deportation for many immigrants living all over the country. One might think that these individuals are those accused or convicted of violent crime, but unfortunately, that is not the case. They are just accused of being here without permission.
If left unchecked, the administration’s aggression will continue to ramp up until it is nearly unstoppable. Many law firms are asking the question: is there something we can do about this administration’s policies toward immigration and, if so, should we? For many, the question is answered in the affirmative. Not only can something be done, but it absolutely should be.
Many might also assume these deportations are limited to states in the far south, but they would be wrong as well. In Denver, new horror stories are breaking every day. ICE shot at one man in the streets of Denver just last week. They tackled another at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. Someone else was arrested at home while parents were dropping their children off at an adjacent school.
Mayor Michael Hancock responded to the Trump administration by warming Denver up to immigrants, but ICE is a federal agency acting on federal orders. The mayor has no real authority to stop these arrests. For the realm of Denver law though, perhaps that can change. If the arrests by ICE are considered lawful, we need to find a way to interrupt or change those laws.
Lawyers claim there are a number of viable avenues they can take to achieve this goal, although none can be traveled easily. Legal experts in the field of immigration have opportunities to challenge ICE officials when they make arrests near schools or deport immigrants without first providing fair access to the United States court system. For now, immigrants have no right to counsel when they go to court. If the person threatened with deportation lacks the necessary funds to hire adequate and experienced legal counsel, then that person will face the prosecutor and judge put on his or her case alone, with no help at all. How would you feel, were you in their shoes?
In the span from 2007 until 2012, a whopping 91 percent of those facing deportation did so without the help of counsel. Right now, a number of cities across the country are passing their own legislation to challenge these ICE deportations. The new laws guarantee that no immigrant can be deported because they cannot afford proper legal representation. Denver lawyers are hoping that their city will jump on the bandwagon in order to pass similar laws.
Unfortunately, this is where the boundaries of the law currently lie. Whether or not D.C. politicians will see the light and start fighting the good fight is not worth questioning. We the people, and those law firms who represent us have both the opportunity and the obligation to fight injustice when we see it. For the moment, that means we must challenge existing laws, adopt those that we can, and hope for a better future for the people who live in our families and communities.