I intended to write a longer post about this topic, but life got in the way this week. Please accept this hastily constructed blog teaser in lieu of the whole enchilada:
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to an attorney. One of the limitations of the right is that it only applies in the criminal context. Over the last year, Law Talkin’ Guy has been increasingly troubled by the conduct of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to those suspected of immigration offenses. Unlike with criminal law, there is no right to have an attorney appointed for immigration proceedings. Why? The short version is that immigration is largely treated as an administrative law concern, not a criminal law concern.
Administrative law is a body of law that oversees government agencies, and applies to agencies like the EPA, FDA, and NLRB. The problem, in my humble opinion, is that none of those agencies operate detention centers or effectively maintain a barely-regulated federal police force. ICE has been infringing the rights of American citizens, and employing brutal tactics. I linked to one article from the great Charles Pierce, but there are far too many examples to ignore. There are negatives to placing immigration proceedings under the criminal law umbrella, and I am not suggesting we do so. However, the lack of regular representation in enforcement proceedings means, among other things, that there are few checks on lawless behavior.