Another Reason Why Due Process Is Important

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ICEThe ACLU blog (somewhat) recently had a blog post called, “Yes, the U.S. Wrongfully Deports Its Own Citizens.” It tells a short story about an individual named Mark Lyttle, who was deported to Mexico because of his brown skin, despite the fact that he had no Mexican lineage, had never been to Mexico, and didn’t speak any Spanish. Even worse, he had cognitive disabilities and was left at the border on foot with only $3. After spending months wandering through central America, he finally talked to a US consular officer in Guatemala who was able to confirm his US citizenship.

Immigration court does not allow any appointed legal counsel. And while some would argue that such provided counsel would be an additional drain of taxpayer resources by immigrants, consider the fact that “In Lyttle’s case, the government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to detain him, prosecute his removal proceedings and litigate against his federal court case…and ultimately pay him monetary damages.”

After hearing about injustices like this, one might wonder why Lyttle would want to come back to this police-state-of-a-country at all. Are the only reasons family ties and that the competition isn’t much better?

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2 responses »

  1. Well, this is awkward. I just posted a blog in which I push back against the idea that the U.S. is a police-state, and I want you to know that I was not, in fact, inspired by your post here, which I just encountered.

    You should check it out, though, because I have a clairvoyant feeling that you’ll have much with which to disagree. I relish your thoughts on the matter.

    (http://thepropensitytoassume.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/those-jumpy-officers/)

    • Let me write a more concise reply than that which I wrote on your blog.

      I really do think there is something to be said about “American exceptionalism” in this case, but not in the way it’s typically used. Growing up here, we are told that this is the freest nation on earth, that it was born out of a revolt against British taxation and the intrusions of privacy made by British soldiers. Thus, when we say “police state,” we aren’t saying it is on the same level as NK or Iran, but that compared to this idealized America we have in our collective imagination, it resembles a police state. We do have a sense of entitlement about the freedoms we feel are our birthright (that are everyone’s birthright) but were officially promised to Americans. And we are very, very upset that reality has not lived up to what we were promised.

      Secondly, I will use “police state” in the same sense that I use “welfare state.” Some people will talk of the US welfare state, but won’t call the US a “welfare state” in the same sense that they would talk about, say, Sweden. Would it be hyperbole to call the US a welfare state? Maybe it isn’t much of one compared to others, but it is quite a large one considering the fact that the US Constitution doesn’t allow the federal government to be involved in such provisions of welfare. Again, the American ideal makes the welfare state seemed magnified to an extent that it might not elsewhere. Hope that makes sense.

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