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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 15, 2008

Written by C.N.

Legal Immigrants Fighting Deportation

We all know that illegal immigration is a very controversial issue these days and that there are many Americans, including a large percentage of Asian Americans, who argue that illegal immigrants should not have any rights whatsoever and should all be immediately deported.

But when it comes to legal immigrants — those who came to the U.S. legally, with permission, and who have led exemplary lives as Americans — we probably assume that they don’t have any problems once they apply to become full-fledged citizens, right? Unfortunately that is not the case.

As the New York Times reports, many legal immigrants are being caught in a web of technicalities, bureaucracy, and injustice and in fact, end up fighting orders from the Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE, the successor to the INS) to be deported back to their sending country, even though they came to the U.S. legally:

As applications for naturalization have surged, overburdened federal examiners, under pressure to make quick decisions and also weed out any security risks, prefer to err on the side of rejection, immigration lawyers and independent researchers said. In 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented. . . .

Under the law, a number of grounds for naturalization denial can lead to an order of deportation, and appeals are more limited than in criminal cases. . . .

“It’s no wonder there are so many illegal immigrants,” said Brad Darnell, an electrical engineer from Canada living in California who applied for citizenship but is also now fighting deportation. “The legal method is so intolerant and confusing.”

The article includes many examples of how the ICE has used various bureaucratic items to order legal immigrants to be deported: a discrepancy regarding marriage status from 25 years ago, a 10-year old misdemeanor conviction that was wiped from one’s record, green card holders mistakenly voting in state elections, failing to update one’s home address, falsely accusing someone of committing a felony, and not showing up to an ICE office to be fingerprinted even though the person was a quadriplegic.

The article also mentions that in the process of coming up with such insignificant reasons to deport someone, the ICE consistently denies these legal immigrants the opportunity to present evidence that testify to their character and how their lives as legal immigrants have contributed to their community and to American society in general.

Unfortunately, this is another example of the how the heavy hand of government bureaucracy and the overall “war on terror” climate inevitably leads to more “collateral damage” in the form of ensnaring innocent bystanders more than it helps in catching the real bad guys.

That is, normal and upstanding legal immigrants who have led exemplary lives as Americans are being deported with little if any chance to oppose such drastic actions. Apparently, a person’s decades of positive actions and contributions to his/her community don’t matter in whether or not they should be considered an American.

What seems to be more important these days is whether they’ve completed a form properly or not.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Legal Immigrants Fighting Deportation" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/04/legal-immigrants-fighting-deportation/> ().

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