Immigration

Survive an Earthquake or Plead to a Misdemeanor, Go to Jail Indefinitely

|

If you wanted to, you could make yourself vomit every day by reading stories about what our incomprehensible immigration system ends up doing to human beings. Here's today's example, from the newspaper that probably reports more of these horror stories than any other, The New York Times:

Wilkommen!

More than two months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, at least 30 survivors who were waved onto planes by Marines in the chaotic aftermath are prisoners of the United States immigration system, locked up since their arrival in detention centers in Florida.

In Haiti, some were pulled from the rubble, their legal advocates say. Some lost parents, siblings or children. Many were seeking food, safety or medical care at the Port-au-Prince airport when terrifying aftershocks prompted hasty evacuations by military transports, with no time for immigration processing. None have criminal histories.

But when they landed in the United States without visas, they were taken into custody by immigration authorities and held for deportation, even though deportations to Haiti have been suspended indefinitely since the earthquake. Legal advocates who stumbled on the survivors in February at the Broward County Transitional Center, a privately operated immigration jail in Pompano Beach, Fla., have tried for weeks to persuade government officials to release them to citizen relatives who are eager to take them in, letters and affidavits show.

Want another awful story from the day before, with an extra twist for you Drug War-haters out there? Here ye go:

There's been a problem with your file

ELMONT, N.Y. — When a police officer in this Long Island suburb found a marijuana cigarette in Jerry Lemaine's pocket one night in January 2007, a Legal Aid lawyer counseled him to plead guilty. Under state statutes, the penalty was only a $100 fine, and though Mr. Lemaine had been caught with a small amount of marijuana years earlier as a teenager, that case had been dismissed.

But Mr. Lemaine, a legal permanent resident, soon discovered that his quick guilty plea had dire consequences. Immigration authorities flew him in shackles to Texas, where he spent three years behind bars, including 10 months in solitary confinement, as he fought deportation to Haiti, the country he had left at age 3.

Under federal rulings that prevailed in Texas, Mr. Lemaine had lost the legal opportunity that rulings in New York would have allowed: to have an immigration judge weigh his offenses, including earlier misdemeanors resolved without jail time, against other aspects of his life, like his nursing studies at Hunter Business School; his care for his little sister, a United States citizen with a brain disorder; and the help he gave his divorced mother, who had worked double shifts to move the family out of a dangerous Brooklyn neighborhood.

Reason on immigration here.

NEXT: Reason.tv: Nanny of The Month, March 2010

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wow, thats the US kangaroo legal system at its finest!

    Lou
    http://www.anonymous-surfing.us.tc

  2. When is it going to cease to suck around here?

  3. It’s their own fault for not being related to the President. Or useful to him.

    The same law that destroyed Haitian marijuana guy and his family, Andrew Sullivan lifted himself above by his own boot-lickin’-straps. When he got caught with teh reefer and potentially threatened with deportation, the DOJ swooped right in and made it all go away. All he had to do was make himself indispensable to the state.

    In America, anyone can do that. But Jerry Lemaine apparently does’t share the Dream. Riddance!

  4. Warren: December 21, 2012, of course.

  5. So don’t live where there are earthquakes, ya’ pinheads!

  6. April fools, right, Matt? Right?!?

    1. Actually, everything that’s been happening the last 18 months is a gigantic April Fools joke. President Sanford (who has never even been to South America) has unraveled many regulations, dramatically cut spending and taxes, ended the WoD, and has helped usher in a new boom economy, with the help of the Libertarian Party-controlled Congress.

      1. President Fred Sanford, that is.

  7. None have criminal histories.

    They probably do *now*.

  8. But this is stopping the terrorists, right?

  9. If you wanted to, you could make yourself vomit every day by reading stories about what our incomprehensible immigration system ends up doing to human beings.

    Fastest way to fix that: halt immigration.

    1. Faster, easier way to fix that: allow fully open immigration.

  10. Bureaucracy, abdicating responsibility for its actions since the beginning of time.

    The more power you give them, the more Kafkaesque the situation becomes.

  11. So what, after he got off the plane from Haiti, they were illegally in the US without a Visa, so of course they were arrested, what is the issue, the law’s the law.

    1. …at least 30 survivors who were waved onto planes by Marines

      OK, take a bunch of illiterate third-worlders who had just been traumatized by an earthquake. Agents of our government wave them on to a plane, in effect inviting them to the US. Granted the Marines probably lacked the authority to do this, but this is a really shoddy way to treat people.

      1. True, but the law’s the law.

        1. Yeah, slavery was the law too.

  12. My sister in law just became a US citizen this year. Fuck that process.

  13. Under federal rulings that prevailed in Texas, Mr. Lemaine had lost the legal opportunity that rulings in New York would have allowed

    I can see it now:

    Under ObamaCare, someone who qualifies for a hip replacement in Arizona will be flown to California, where they do not qualify for a hip replacement. When they demand to go home, their obstreperous interference with the administration of health care will either be a crime for which they will be jailed, or will be evidence of mental illness, for which they will be detained.

    Why not? If they’ll do it for someone who threatens the public morals with a joint, why not do it for someone who threatens the public fisc with a bad hip?

  14. Makes you proud to be an American.

  15. I think the thought of being tossed through the FedGov grinder like this is fast becoming my worst fear, even above centipedes and teletubbies.

    1. I’ve been assuming all along that the Teletubbies are running the federal government. so that makes sense.

      1. I run the DADT program!

  16. Thanks Matt! As if we don’t already have enough Radley Balkos to ruin our days…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.