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Mexicans in removal proceedings much more likely to be jailed while waiting

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It has been found that Mexicans are facing much tougher treatment than any other group of immigrants.  The government has been found to use its detention authority much more in immigration cases that involve Mexicans.  

According to federal law, the government is allowed to lock up immigrants facing deportation hearings if they are appear to be danger to the community or a flight risk.  Roughly 19% of all Chinese immigrants that face deportation for non criminal reasons were placed in detention centers, while 75% of Mexicans end up in these detention centers.  

U.S. immigration expert, Marc Rosenblum, is quoted as saying, “These are people who haven’t been charged with a crime being held in jail-like settings with very little due process.”

While there is no official policy that calls for the harsher treatment of Mexicans, the commonality of Mexicans being incarcerated suggests a bias.  

The restriction of undocumented Mexican immigrants has been at the forefront of U.S. policy in decades.  One way that the government is trying to stop the flow of undocumented Mexicans is by using detention as a deterrent.  A federal judge wrote, that his court “is satisfied that ICE has a policy of taking deterrence of mass migration into account in making custody determinations.”

border patrol


Many experts agree that using detention as a deterrent is against the law.  The judge, who was quoted above, ruled that the government could not use deterrence to justify jailing Central Americans.  Director of the immigration clinic at Yeshiva University’s law school, Peter Markowitz, said that the number of Mexican immigrants being detained “raises serious questions about whether detention policy is being used illegally to deter immigration from certain regions.”

An ICE spokesperson said “ICE is charged with administrative detention, meaning that ICE cannot hold individuals for punitive reasons. Individuals who come into ICE custody can only be detained in order for ICE to remove them from the country.”

Congress requires that ICE maintains a certain number of of detention beds every year.  That number is currently 34,000.  ICE thinks that Congress wants them to fill these beds.  With a plethora of undocumented Mexican immigrants, former ICE officials said that locking the immigrants up is natural.   One of the former officials said,“It’s based on ‘How much grief are you going to get from management for detaining this person? Anybody from Mexico is pretty safe to detain.”

While Chinese immigrants make up the fifth-largest undocumented nationality in the United States, less than 1 in 5 Chinese immigrants are detained during deportation proceedings.  

Mr. Markowitz suggests that the heavy focus on Mexicans repeats a pattern where the government focuses on whichever group of immigrants is most plentiful.

Markowitz went on to say “Germans and Italians experienced that, and so did Chinese immigrants. And Latinos, particularly Mexicans and Central Americans, are today’s focal point.”

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