No Bond for Babies

Channeling former Attorney General John Ashcroft's 2003 edict to deny bond to Haitian refugees, ICE lawyers in immigration courts are arguing for "no bond" orders against mothers and children fleeing gang violence, poverty and chaos in Central America.

As reported by John Stanton and Julia Preston, ICE's argument is that setting these refugees free on bond will only encourage more migrants:

[I]n light of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there is increased necessity in preventing undocumented aliens from entering the country without the screening of the immigration inspections process. ... the perception of further successful entries could encourage further mass migration attempts. ... Encouraging such unlawful mass migrations is inconsistent with sound immigration policy and important national security interests. -- Matter of D-J-, 23 I&N Dec. 572 (A.G. 2003).

National security? 9/11? Right, let's punish moms and kids from Honduras for 9/11.

Let's be clear about the Obama administration's true motivation for this "no bond" gambit. If refugees are released from custody, they are more likely to gain access to legal counsel. Refugees with lawyers win more often in immigration court. But if refugees are stuck in a Border Patrol jail in Artesia, New Mexico -- pretty much in the middle of nowhere -- their chances of getting a lawyer plummet, and their chances of getting deported soar.

The President of the American Bar Association, James Silkenat, has urged for a mobilization of legal talent to address this latest immigration crisis. The President of the United States should tell his lawyers to use common sense and compassion... not the fear tactics of the Ashcroft era.