OpinionReaders React
Readers React

Detaining immigrants shouldn't be the default

ImmigrationGovernmentSafety of Citizens

The article ("Push for cheaper alternatives to immigrant detention grows," May 31) says, "Under current law, the vast majority of those in ICE custody are subject to mandatory detention to ensure that they show up for their immigration hearings and are deported if a removal order is issued."

Under current immigration laws, there is a distinction between discretionary detention and "mandatory detention." Under discretionary detention, an immigration officer or judge has the discretion to determine whether an individual is a flight risk or a threat to public safety and warrants detention. Under mandatory detention, an individual must be placed in detention.

Mandatory detention, generally, is reserved for individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes. That is not the vast majority of immigrants in custody.

Because of the immigration detention quota and the resulting pressure on Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to detain individuals, lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens and others who may be eligible to remain lawfully in the U.S. have been detained.

Immigration detention is civil detention, not punitive incarceration, and thus should not be the "default setting." In the case of discretionary detention, where less costly and effective alternatives exist, they should be used.

Evangeline M. Chan

New York

The writer is an immigration attorney and an adjunct assistant professor of immigration law at City University of New York.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
ImmigrationGovernmentSafety of Citizens
  • Holding parents responsible for gun safety

    To the editor: I salute City Atty. Mike Feuer for filing criminal charges against the mother of a teenager who was found with guns at school. He has a long record of working to end gun violence in our state. He is taking an approach that works: prevention. ("Mother charged in...

  • Little nice to say about foster care in L.A. County

    To the editor: I am somewhat surprised by the letter from Matty Nierenberg, who kindly bought a headstone for a 2-year-old girl beaten to death by a foster parent. I totally disagree with his support for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. ("Helping foster...

  • Coyote killers in Seal Beach

    To the editor: I am outraged to learn that the city of Seal Beach has decided to continue the horrific killing of coyotes. While most other cities in California have opted to use humane and non-lethal methods of dealing with their coyote populations, Seal Beach is basically using the gas...

  • Enough drought-intolerant development, say water-wise readers
    Enough drought-intolerant development, say water-wise readers

    In reading the letters responding to politicians who admonish people to cut their water use, a reality becomes clear: Our success in getting through the drought will depend largely on whether government can convince the public with its actions that it truly cares about wasting water.

  • The incredible, shrinking minimum wage

    To the editor: Neither Daniel Flaming nor Edward Leamer mention the obvious when it comes to increasing L.A.'s minimum wage: In 1968, California's minimum wage was $1.65 an hour, or about $286 monthly (if employment ran 12 months with no layoffs). My nice studio apartment in Corona...

  • Mandatory abortion waiting period: pro and con

    To the editor: South Dakota treats women as if they were children. What if men were asked to wait 72 hours before being allowed to have a vasectomy because they might want to "change their mind"? ("Doctor goes to great lengths to keep abortion accessible," Oct. 14)

Comments
Loading