Jessica Arneson, Fargo, Published June 24 2013
Letter: Reinstate judicial discretion as it applies to immigration lawImagine being 15 years old, coming home after to school expecting to see your mom but instead walking into an empty house. A neighbor tells you that your mother has been taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and is now being held in a detention facility until she can be deported. You never even get a chance to say goodbye, and you have no idea when or where she will be sent to.
You are a citizen of the United States; you were born here and have lived here your whole life, so you can stay, but you would have to live with a foster family. What would you do? Go to another country that you have never lived and have little prospects in, or stay here without your family?
A child should never be forced to make this decision. Shamefully, this situation is all too common in our country. We must not continue to allow families to be torn apart, causing devastating and long-lasting trauma to each and every person. We must instead create an immigration process that is fair and respectful of everyone’s civil rights and liberties.
Rather than automatic deportation, judges should have the ability to evaluate each individual case and decide what makes sense, something no longer possible under our current system. This is critical because, though our Constitution guarantees that no person should be deprived of liberty without due process of law, far too often our immigration system does not live up to that promise. The results are devastating to entire family units.
Eight in 10 Americans believe that people should not be deported without a judge being able to evaluate the circumstances of their case (Belden Russonello Strategists, 2013). As Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., consider the amendments being proposed regarding the federal immigration reform bill, they need to know that the American people strongly support fundamental due process and constitutional guarantees. As a nation that prides ourselves on valuing families, we must fix this; Congress needs to reinstate judicial discretion.