Resisting the Administration's Criminalization of Immigrants Through Impact Litigation
The immigrant population of the United States faces unheard of threats of mass apprehension, detention, and deportation as the current administration has taken steps to ramp up its deportation machine. Immigrants who have a criminal conviction – including long-time green card holders and people with minor convictions – are increasingly swept up as the primary targets by means of a growing criminal-immigration-deportation pipeline. For the past year, CAIR Coalition has been working to actively disrupt this pipeline through its Crim-Imm Pro Bono Project.
Not all “criminal aliens” are created equal. Although President Obama also prioritized the deportation of immigrants who interacted with the criminal system, his priorities of who to deport were based on those with certain categories of serious convictions. But under the current administration’s recent Executive Order increasing interior enforcement, any run in with the police now puts an undocumented or otherwise removable immigrant at imminent risk of being detained and deported: immigrants who have been merely charged but not convicted of offense or even not charged but alleged to have committed acts that could be charged as an offense are top priorities for home raids, ICE pickups outside of criminal court, and rapid deportation procedures. Among other measures, the administration has announced policies to deputize local police officers as immigration agents, essentially instituting a nationwide localized deportation police. This means that many more immigrants, including longtime green card holders, will suffer a disproportionate and double punishment: after they complete a criminal sentence or even before they are formally charged and convicted of a crime, they will be detained and deported. While President Obama started with perhaps a two-inch pipe, President Trump has inundated immigrants into a swelling two-mile pipeline of criminal-immigration deportation.
There has never been a more urgent time to disrupt this drastically expanding criminal-immigration pipeline and challenge the dehumanization and criminalization of immigrant communities. Only certain state crimes make immigrants deportable under federal law. Through taking a case in our Crim-Imm Pro Bono Project, firms can litigate impact cases to defend detained immigrants and challenge which state crimes fall in the category of offenses that trigger deportation.