Thursday, September 8, 2011
SAN DIEGO The analysis of never-before released government data revealed there has been an overuse of the "Stipulated Order of Removal" program. According to the report by Stanford Law School, Western State University College of Law, and the National Immigration Law Center, the secretive practice has encouraged immigrants to waive their rights to face a judge in exchange for an expedited deportation. In addition, undocumented suspects are not entitled to an attorney in immigration court if they cannot afford one.
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has forced many immigrants to make an impossible choice," said Jayashri Srikantiah, author of the report, and a law professor at Stanford Law School. "Stay in detention to fight deportation, or accept deportation in exchange for release. Most of the immigrants who sign stipulated orders do not have lawyers and they do not know about their legal rights."
In 96 percent of all cases under the program analyzed by the authors of the report, immigrants did not have access to a lawyer, and therefore did not understand the ramifications of signing a Stipulated Order of Removal.
Lauren Mack, a spokesperson for ICE in San Diego, said the agency will review the findings of the report. But when asked about the Stipulated Order of Removal practice, Mack argued that ICE followed standard procedures and informed immigrants of their rights.
"An alien’s decision to accept a stipulated removal is strictly voluntary," she said. "Before an alien agrees to such an order, ICE procedures require that the process be fully explained to the individual, through an interpreter if necessary. Moreover, a stipulated removal cannot take place until after an immigration judge has fully reviewed the case and signed the removal order."