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December 04, 2011

Deporting US citizens

The agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency "operate in a secretive judicial environment where detention hearings are held out of public view", according to this news report and this lack of oversight leads to abuses in which even US citizens are picked up, kept in detention for long periods, and even deported.

After a detailed examination of federal immigration records, Prof. Jacqueline Stevens of Northwestern University estimated this year that about 4,000 American citizens were illegally detained or deported as aliens in 2010. In a study published last summer, she found that as many as 20,000 citizens may have been wrongly held or deported since 2003.

"If they can't even protect the rights of citizens, think about the others who are being put through this system,'' Stevens said. "You have agents making life and death types of decisions and there is no check on their honesty.''

A US citizen who was detained for 43 days and almost deported is now suing the ICE agency for $1 million.

Once again, this shows the abuses that inevitably occur when people are given power that they can exercise in secret. Transparency has to be the foundation of a democracy but the government keeps steadily increasing the levels of secrecy under which it operates.

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