President Donald Trump detailed proposals to increase the deportation of criminal noncitizens in his first week in office.
Undocumented immigrants who commit crimes will be prioritized for removal.
Although he scaled down a proposal to remove as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants to concentrate on up to 3 million with criminal records, doubts linger about the viability of the policy.
Writing in the Washington Post, Kari Hong, a professor at Boston College Law School, said Trump’s policies won’t work.
He claimed the approach will be expensive, bureaucratic and unwieldly. He cited the following reasons:
1 Criminal Records May Not Define Violent Crime
Criminal records are not always effective at separating violent and non-violent offenders. In other words, they are a clumsy tool to identify dangerous criminal noncitizens.
There are, for example, green card holders who are fighting deportation due to a crime like petty theft decades ago.
Hong said the definition of “violent” has confounded federal judges for decades. Until the Supreme Court finally stepped in, many noncitizens were deported from the United States because courts incorrectly concluded that state convictions for driving under the influence were crimes of violence. In one case in Virginia, spitting at a police officer was judged to be a violent crime and hence grounds for deportation.
2 The Immigration Courts Are Under Severe Pressure
Recently, in this blog, we highlighted the severe pressures on the immigration courts.
With the national backlog of cases inching up toward 1 million, the courts have almost no capacity to take on another massive influx of cases.
Hong said every noncitizen is entitled to a hearing no matter how he or she is rounded up. It’s not a rubber stamping exercise. As many as half of all those who appear before immigration courts win their cases. You can read about our cancellation of removal cases here.
At present, many noncitizens are waiting as long as three years for their hearing.
3 Deportation is Expensive
The cost of incarceration of noncitizens is extremely expensive. Trump has already floated the idea of building new immigrant detention centers.
Hong said as many as 30,000 people are currently locked up at an annual cost of more than $2 billion.
The growth in the deportation of criminal noncitizens envisaged by Trump would add to the costs of incarceration. More immigration officials would be needed to round up those set to be deported.
Hong makes the point that deportation was stepped up under the Obama administration and more than 2.5 million people were deported over the course of his eight years in office. Obama was nicknamed the “deporter in chief.”
However, the level of deportations fell during his second term, partly because of the costs involved.
At Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC, we realize this is a stressful time to be an immigrant, even if you are a green card holder. Our Austin family immigration lawyers can help you. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.