By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Lawyers here are rolling their sleeves in facing heady days of impending deportations following Pres. Trump’s executive order to intensify deportation of undocumented immigrants nationwide.
Immigration lawyers Paul Grotas and David Kim advised fellow immigration lawyers, during a training on the writ of habeas corpus last week, to file a writ of habeas corpus “as quickly as possible before a federal court where the case will be taken seriously.” Grotas warned against going to the USCIS and allied agencies, such as ICE, where the procedure is tedious and could take much longer time.
Although an overstayed visa is not a crime but a civil violation, undocumented immigrants who are up for deportation are right now mixed in prison with criminal offenders. Kim and Grota hence explained that lawyers must work fast to get his client out of prison, with 72 hours as the longest detention time.
Undocumented immigrants may be incarcerated by Federal or immigration authorities without filing formal charges, hence the writ of habeas corpus is a law used to bring a prisoner or detainee before the court to determine the legality of the custody and decide whether to order the prisoner’s release. The writ examines the manner of respect given to an individual’s constitutional rights.
“One could argue on prolonged detention,” said Kim. The 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution prohibit the deprivation of life and liberty without due process. Any deprivation of these rights may be ground for granting a writ of habeas corpus.
The legal training was sponsored by the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY) together with several other lawyers groups on February 24, 2017 at the St. Francis of Asisi Migrant Center in the city. More than a hundred lawyers were in attendance. Grotas is an active official of the American Immigration Lawyers Association while Kim is governor of KALAGNY.
Lawyer Merium Malik, a director of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MUBANY), said that the Immigration Act of 1965 opened up the US to Asian and Latin American immigrants, hence majority of the immigrants today are Latinos and Asians. She added that the strong enforcement of deportation orders are mere implementation of the immigration laws.
TJ Mills, of the group New York Justice for Our Neighbors, said that with the Trump presidency, “It seems like an entirely different world” with the widespread deportation crackdown.
Lawyer Eve Guillergan who hosted the program, criticized the ban of refugees from the 7 Middle Eastern countries, saying it was bad. “Refugees are not bad, but terrorists are,” she said.
Lawyer Amanda Bernardo of the Filipino American Lawyers Association (FALA) for her part emphasized that family members and friends of undocumented immigrants must know their rights as a first line of defense from discrimination and violation of their basic rights. (Featured photo is David Kim and Paul Grotas)