Ripped Apart by the Immigration System: Immigrant Parents of US-Citizen Children Should be Afforded Prosecutorial Discretion
Reports and criticisms of the immigration system tend to focus on the hardships felt by the detainees themselves, incarcerated and facing possible deportation. Far less attention, however, has been paid to their children. A recent study conducted by the Applied Research Center shows that 25% of individuals deported in 2011 left behind a US-citizen child. Because Child Protective Services (CPS) cannot legally place these children with undocumented family members such as aunts, uncles, or grandparents, the children end up falling into the general ranks of an expensive and already overcrowded foster care system.
Bipartisan efforts are few and far between these days, but finally, there seems to be one issue that House Democrats and Republicans can agree upon: no one held in US custody should be at risk for rape or sexual assault.
Due to the relatively closed nature of the system, there is very little publicly available data detailing the extent of sexual abuse in immigration detention centers. However, recently uncovered documents reveal nearly 200 official complaints of sexual abuse in detention facilities since 2007. This number is probably just the tip of the iceberg given that sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in the US.
Federal Border Patrol agents aren’t the only people scouring the US-Mexico border in search of immigrants illegally crossing the border, joining their ranks are groups of armed private citizens. These citizens claim to support law enforcement by protecting America from the security threat of uncontrolled immigration. Groups such as the Minuteman Project, Ranch Rescue, and the American Border Patrol claim to “operate within the law,” yet they regularly violate both domestic and international law.
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that corporate entities can be held accountable for human rights violations committed abroad. At the heart of the debate is the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), a mechanism through which non-US citizens can bring lawsuits in US federal court for acts committed abroad that violate international law.