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in the role of prosecutor, presented to itself. (emphasis added)"
Similarly, and as early as 1931, the Wickersham Commission found that, in deportation cases as in other judicial proceedings, an independent hearing officer or judge was necessary to ensure a person's constitutional right to an impartial hearing. The Wickersham Commission concluded that a judicial body must be completely separate from, and not responsible to, the agency charged with enforcing the laws:
The right to a hearing can, therefore, be discarded if an individual admits to being deportable and agrees to depart voluntarily, which may be accomplished in a matter of hours, without opportunity to contact counsel or family. By agreeing to voluntary departure, however, persons not only forfeit their right to a hearing, but may also lose remedies to which they are statutorily entitled. Many forms of discretionary relief, for example, can be applied for at hearings, which may afford persons their sole opportunity to establish eligibility for these forms of relief. Although electing to depart voluntarily may benefit detainees by facilitating a later reentry into the United States, the seductiveness of that offer may also cause them unknowingly to waive potential forms of relief and the right to a hearing.
It appears, however, that INS officials are making such offers of voluntary departure coupled with warnings about the risks of deportation hearings. Joseph Sureck, then INS District Director for Los Angeles, when asked whether INS tried to communicate to a person that leaving voluntarily was more desirable than going through a deportation hearing, responded:
It is equally important that this body should not be appointed by and function under the jurisdiction of the governmental department responsible for the investigation and prosecution of the cases which the judging body is to decide. This body should have an unfettered opportunity to review the prior processes of the cases which come before it to see if all the facts have been properly developed and if due process of law has been observed; it should not be answerable for its decisions to the department charged with the enforcement of the deportation laws. 92
In partial response to these judicial decisions and committee reports, Congress in 1952 amended the immigration laws to provide each person with a hearing before an impartial officer prior to deportation.” The current structure and operating procedures of INS, however, effectively deny the right to an impartial hearing to many persons it apprehends. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that otherwise deportable aliens may elect to depart voluntarily from the United States rather than undergo a deportation hearing:
we may explain to him, and I can't tell if this comes up every time, but it is quite likely that when we tell him about going to deportation hearing, that if the immigration judge finds him deportable, although he can grant him voluntary departure again, but if he doesn't, that he needs permission from the Attorney General to reapply before he can come back again, and if he comes back again under a deportation order, then it could subject him to a criminal penalty.95
Because it is evident that INS has an interest in having people depart voluntarily rather than undergo a hearing, it is questionable whether INS officers should be persuading people to depart voluntarily, particularly when these officers are part of the enforcement arm of the agency and, as such, they aid in the prosecution of persons under the immigration laws. Even the most well-intentioned officers would find it difficult to avoid having their suggestions seem coercive when acting under color of law,
In the discretion of the Attorney General, and under such regulations as he may prescribe, deportation proceedings, including issuance of a warrant of arrest, and a finding of deportability under this section need not be required in the case of any alien who admits to belonging to a class of aliens who are deportable. . .if such alien voluntarily departs from the United States at his own expense, or if removed at Govern
ment expense. " Id. at 41-42; U.S., President's Committee on Administrative Management, Administrative Management in the Government of the United States (1937), pp. 36-37. » Wickersham Commission, Report on the Enforcement of the Deportation Laws of the United States, p. 158. * Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8 U.S.C. $1252(b) (1976). Subsection (b) provides in part:
(b) A special inquiry officer shall conduct proceedings under this section to determine the deportability of any alien, and shall administer
oaths, present and receive evidence, interrogate, examine, and crossexamine the alien or witnesses, and, as authorized by the Attorney General, shall make determinations, including orders of deportation. Determination of deportability in any case shall be made only upon a record made in a proceeding before a special inquiry officer, at which
the alien shall have reasonable opportunity to be present. * Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 9242(b), 8 U.S.C. $1252(b). as Joseph Sureck, testimony, Los Angeles Open Meeting Transcript, p. 576.
are still not secure. The courts have held that due process mandates a hearing before an impartial tribunal. The Immigration and Nationality Act also implies the right to an impartial hearing by providing that:
and this is heightened by the intimidating surroundings.
Lastly, to the extent that the statute does not check possible “overpersuasiveness," it does not adequately protect the rights of people from governmental abuse. Although INS officials, as did District Director Sureck in the previous paragraph, characterize these situations as attempts by INS officers to "explain" the deportation process and its options to arrested persons, allegations of intimidation were made by witnesses before the Commission:
No special inquiry officer shall conduct a proceeding in any case under this section in which he shall have participated in investigative functions or in which he shall have participated (except as provided in this subsection) in prosecuting functions.98
I know cases where they were told that if they didn't accept voluntary departure and went for a hearing, they would not get voluntary departure at the hearing. Now, there is no way an officer can make that determination. . . . And yet, many times, they are scared into signing this form, because they were told that they would never be able to depart voluntarily, and a deportation does correctly have a negative effect on any possible immigration in the future.
The structure of INS, however, conflicts with this attempt to secure impartiality. Although the immigration judge is in theory responsible only to the Commissioner, in practice, the judge is subject to the budgetary and administrative control of the district director, the chief enforcement officer at INS local offices. It is solely up to the district director to supply the immigration judge with office supplies and support staff. Judge Herman Bookford, Chief Immigration Judge of INS, discussed the dependence that immigration judges have on the district directors:
The allocation of resources, including funds for clerical personnel, for courtroom facilities, for mechanical equipment, all phases of administrative support are allocated to the district directors, and it is up to the district director to decide how much of that he wants to allocate to the immigration judge.99
Whether threats are made or not, the Immigration and Nationality Act does not provide a deterrent to the possibility of intimidation. Such a deterrent would have to ensure that voluntary departure could only be accepted (and a deportation hearing
( thereby forfeited) where there was a knowing and intelligent waiver by a person who had been fully informed of his or her rights.97 Even this protection would not be adequate, however, where certain forms of discretionary relief cannot be obtained without a hearing and a person's eligibility for such relief cannot be determined before a hearing. The Service's practice of urging people to accept voluntary departure, then, might well deny such persons their constitutional right to a hearing before deportation from the United States.
Unfortunately, even for those who avoid the pitfalls of ill-advised voluntary departure and insist upon their “day in court,” their constitutional rights
The control exercised by a district director over the immigration judge is not necessarily malicious. The primary responsibility of district directors is to enforce the immigration laws and prosecute offenders, and it is understandable that they would allocate budgetary resources based on their perceptions of the INS activities that should be given priority.
As Judge Bookford testified, immigration judges and district directors have differing priorities con
* Barbara Honig, director, Immigration Law Clinic, testimony, Los
Practically speaking, many such aliens do not want hearings for the
their rights are and voluntarily depart because they know that they are
clearly deportable. Castillo Letter. The Commission disagrees with the assertion that “the reality is that most aliens know what their rights are." The likelihood is small that most aliens have a complete understanding of the system of American law, particularly the intricacies and complexities of immigration law. We believe that few aliens would have a knowledge of American immigration law and their eligibility for various forms of relief from deportation that would entitle them to remain in this country lawfully. Taking notice of the fact that aliens often have little or no English-language facility, it is even more unlikely that “most aliens know what their rights are." ** Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8242(b), 8 U.S.C. $1252(b). » Bookford Testimony, Washington Hearing Transcript, pp. 263-64.
immigration judges. An administratively and judicially independent court would assure all persons that their rights will be adequately protected and impartially adjudicated without fear of coercion or prejudice.
hat di cerning the processing of deportation cases. The mpar.
reasons for those differences are: ct als
First of all, the district director is a law provi
enforcement officer, and as such, when he institutes proceedings against an alien, he is interested in seeing that it is carried through to a successful conclusion; otherwise he would not
have instituted the proceeding in the beginning. gative The immigration judge, on the other hand, pated takes no stand either way, either for the Service Drose
or for the alien.
uct i ion L
Administrative Arrest Warrants
INS has been given broad powers to take into custody people charged with violating the immigration laws. Arrests can be made with or without a warrant, depending on the circumstances, but even where a warrant is required,104 it is not difficult to obtain.
The INS administrative arrest warrant procedure raises two specific problems regarding procedural safeguards. First, there is no requirement that the warrant be issued by a neutral judicial officer. The INS not only prosecutes immigration law violations, but it is also entrusted with issuing warrants. 105 Secondly, the standard upon which a warrant may be issued falls far short of the constitutional requirement of probable cause.
Although in the criminal justice system the necessity of an independent and neutral appraisal of the evidence supporting an application for a warrant has been recognized, the Immigration and Nationality Act has no similar provision. The act makes no pretense at requiring any degree of impartiality in the consideration of arrest warrants. Even the Assistant District Director for Investigations, who is responsible for the preparation of a case and the filing of charges against an alien, is one of the officials empowered to issue warrants.
Dissenting in a case involving this issue, Justice William J. Brennan compared criminal and INS administrative arrest warrants and commented on the need for greater administrative safeguards:
As a result of these different priorities, and the lack of sufficient administrative support, deportation cases are backlogged for periods ranging from 3 months to 2 years. 101 Judge Bookford concluded that a separate and independent immigration court is necessary to assure all persons of a timely and impartial hearing and to promote public recognition that the judges are, in fact, impartial.
I think it is very much advisable, not only from the standpoint of carrying out the work efficiently, but from the standpoint of a public view of the operation. We must not only be independent but we must, I think, give the appearance of independence. We must convince the aliens, the public, the members of the bar that our decisions are independent, and when we are so closely allied with and a part of the Immigration Service, it's very difficult to convince these people that we are indeed independent. . . . 102
Creation of an independent adjudicative body separated from the enforcement agency was recommended by the Wickersham Commission in 1931,103 and a similar proposal is currently supported by the
Here the arrest, while had on what is called a warrant, was made totally without the intervention of an independent magistrate; it was made on the authorization of one administrative official to another. And after the [person] was taken
into custody, there was no obligation upon the 105 8 C.F.R. $242.2(a) (1978) provides, “the respondent may be arrested and taken into custody under the authority of a warrant of arrest. However, such a warrant may be issued by no one other than a district director, acting district director, deputy district director, assistant district director for investigations, or officers in charge of an office enumerated in $242.1(a) (listing offices) and then only whenever, in his discretion, it appears that the arrest of the respondent is necessary or desirable." This warrant may be issued at "the commencement of any proceeding. . .or at any time thereafter." (emphasis added)
100 Ibid., p. 264.
As administered by INS, the warrant of arrest is more a piece of administrative paperwork than a barrier between an individual and abusive official action. INS warrant procedures are not in line with fourth amendment requirements, making the warrant process an empty gesture that lends a fallacious claim of legitimacy to a subsequent arrest.
[U]ntil very recently, no place was immune from INS raids-homes, places of employment, public streets. My colleagues at the immigration bar and I have known of numerous instances of warrantless entries into private homes, interrogations, arrests in clear violation of the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution. The fourth amendment, incidentally, prohibits the issuance of a warrant except upon oath or affirmation. The Immigration Service doesn't even bother with that minor technicality, for, in practice, a warrant for the arrest of an alien is issued on the mere verbal request of an investigator with no procedural safeguards whatsoe
Problems created by the absence of an impartial judge in the warrant process are exacerbated by the absence of any meaningful standard to determine when a warrant should be issued. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that an arrest warrant may be issued "whenever, in the named officials'] discretion, it appears that the arrest of the respondent is necessary or desirable.
109 What may be deemed necessary or desirable is not defined.
Although the fourth amendment110 requires that probable cause be the basis upon which a warrant is 106 Abel v. United States, 362 U.S. 217, 251 (1960) (Brennan, J., dissenting). 107 Henry Wagner, former INS Assistant District Director for Investigations, New York District Office, testimony, New York Open Meeting Transcript, p. 146. 105 Leon Rosen, testimony, New York Open Meeting Transcript, pp. 22122. 100 8 C.F.R. 242.2 (1978) (emphasis supplied). 110 The fourth amendment provides:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (emphasis
supplied) 111 Rosen Testimony, New York Open Meeting Transcript, pp. 269-70. The INS disagreed with the testimony of Mr. Rosen, a former immigration official. It stated:
Findings and Recommendations Finding 7.1: The right to counsel is not provided to suspected immigration law violators at all crucial stages of the deportation process.
Notwithstanding the consequences of the penalty of deportation, aliens subject to deportation hearings receive less due process protection than defendants in criminal proceedings. Defendants in criminal cases receive substantial due process protection because of the punishment or deprivation of liberty that can occur upon conviction. Aliens subject to deportation hearings may similarly suffer from the severe consequences of deportation, which means banishment from the United States and which “may result also in loss of both property and life; or of all that makes life worth living."112 But as a result of a long line of Supreme Court decisions in which deportation hearings have been classified as civil proceedings, aliens subject to those hearings have not been accorded the full measure of due process available in criminal proceedings.
Contrary to the allegation made by one of the witnesses who testified before the Commission, that an investigator simply goes to his supervisor and says "I want a warrant,” such an investigator is required to fill out an 1-265, “Application for Order to Show Cause," which requires the investigator to present evidence supporting his request for a warrant. This information must be supplied before such a warrant will be issued. Warrants can be issued only by District Directors, Deputy District Directors, Assistant District Directors for
Investigations, and certain Officers in Charge. 8 CFR 242.1(a). Castillo Letter. We note that the INS did not address the two issues in the administrative arrest warrant section of this chapter: the absence of an impartial judge in the warrant process and the absence of a requirement of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant. 112 Ng Fung Ho v. White, 259 U.S. 276, 284 (1922).
Although recent Court decisions, recognizing the similarity between deportation and punishment, have strictly construed laws that provide the grounds for deportation, the courts have continued to label deportation hearings as civil proceedings rather than look at the consequences of an order of deportation in determining the sufficiency of due process for aliens subject to deportation proceedings. In some nonimmigration cases involving the right to counsel, the Supreme Court has looked beyond the civil-criminal characterization of the proceeding to accord parties greater due process. 113 The consequences of deportation require a similar approach for providing due process to aliens in deportation hearings.
The courts have recognized that the assistance of counsel is one of the most important guarantees for the protection of constitutional and statutory rights of individuals. Although the Immigration and Nationality Act recognizes the right to counsel, it is expressly recognized only in exclusion and deportation proceedings.
It is unclear whether there is an absolute right to counsel between the time of the initial encounter with the INS agent and the actual hearing itself.
The right to counsel is deemed fundamental in criminal proceedings and is provided at an early stage of those proceedings. The presence of legal counsel helps prevent law enforcement officers acting under color of law from coercing or intimidating persons into making incriminating statements.
Because credible evidence indicates that INS agents obtain incriminating statements from individuals immediately after detention and apprehension, the subsequent availability of legal counsel only at the hearing itself is no more than illusory compliance with the constitutional right to counsel. Moreover, the absence of counsel during the prehearing stages of the deportation process may result in apprehendees or detainees foregoing a hearing and electing voluntary departure in some cases where facts or circumstances exist that would make them eligible to remain in the United States. But because such facts were not disclosed during an INS interrogation seeking information on their deportability, detainees may unknowingly waive statutory rights for which they are eligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
During the deportation process, indigent persons who have been detained or apprehended for suspected violations of immigration laws may not have the assistance of legal counsel. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides for the right to counsel, but it must be at no expense to the Government. Because some detainees appeared in deportation hearings without the assistance of counsel, the 1931 Wickersham Commission report recommended that detainees be advised of free legal services provided by charitable organizations. Almost 50 years later, the INS adopted a regulation incorporating this recommendation to that effect after litigation was instituted challenging the unavailability of counsel to indigent detainees. However, this new regulation applies only to those persons placed under formal deportation (or exclusion) proceedings, which represents only a small portion of those apprehended. Approximately 60,000 hearings were held in 1978, while 800,000 persons were given "voluntary departure” without the benefit of a hearing. Recommendation 7.1: Congress should amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to require the Immigration and Naturalization Service to notify detainees at all crucial stages of the deportation process that they have a right to legal counsel and may be entitled to free legal counsel provided by charitable and legal service organizations. Due process requires that a detainee should have the availability of the assistance of counsel not merely at the actual hearing but at the earliest possible stage of the deportation process. Finding 7.2: Current INS policies and practices in setting bail fail to adhere to acceptable standards of due process for the following reasons:114
Bail is set for purposes other than to assure the appearance of the arrested alien at the subsequent hearing.
There is a lack of consistency and comparability in the setting of bond.
There are few written guidelines for measuring whether the bail recommended is appropriate.
There is a lack of sufficient documentation in case files to justify either the bond recommended or the amount of bond set at the hearing.
Few statistics are available which might indicate what are successful (and therefore appropriate) bond amounts in a particular case.
113 In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1966) (civil commitment of a juvenile); Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973) (revocation of probation).
114 INS, Bond Study, pp. 20–31.