Editorial: Justice For All

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By The Daily Illini

A pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on Wednesday put America in the right direction in its treatment of immigrants, but the federal government should strive to implement a policy that is both fair to immigrants and mindful of national security.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the government may not detain criminals who are illegal immigrants for an indefinite period of time.

While the actions of a criminal should always be punished, the rights of the accused should always be upheld and independent of their country of origin. Detaining criminals without setting any time frame to which they would be brought to justice undermines the American ideal of justice for all.

The Supreme Court should be applauded for their efforts to protect the rights of immigrants, legal and illegal, while the Bush administration has utilized practices on immigrants that would be unconstitutional to practice on U.S. citizens. The government has the right and responsibility to administer justice, but it should not resort to imprisonment without due process.

The Bush administration’s claims that the ruling, which addressed the cases of Clark v. Martinez and Benitez v. Rozos, will do more harm than good to national security raises serious concerns, but sacrificing the foundations of our ideology for the sake of our security would be letting fear undermine who we are as a nation. We hope that with this new ruling will usher in an era of better, more efficient practices in cases where immigrants stand accused.

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In a separate ruling by the Supreme Court, it was ruled 5-4 that the United States is allowed to deport legal immigrants without getting permission from the receiving country. The ruling, in the case Jana v. INS, keeps in mind the interests of the United States, but also proposes possible dangerous consequences. Deporting legal immigrants without the consent of the country they are sent to could result in placing people’s lives in harm’s way. The U.S. government should be fully aware of the political situation of the country to which we deport immigrants. Deportation to countries lacking a stable and undemocratic government does nothing to promote the freedoms and liberties that those of us fortunate enough to be U.S. citizens embrace.

Jana v. INS involved the case of more than 8,000 Somali immigrants who can now be deported back to their country of origin as a result. The United States now undeniably retains the right to send these people home, but President Bush should question whether such an action is morally responsible. We urge the president to allow for these immigrants to apply for asylum and to expedite their cases so they have a chance to build a new home in a better nation.

While the United States should not be forced to recognize the authority of any nation in terms of deportation, our government must practice good judgment and recognize how much immigrants’ lives are affected by its immigration policy. Deporting people to countries with oppressive leaders and civil conflict can turn the idea of the American Dream into the American Deception in eyes of the international community. It is time to once again be known as the nation where dreams can come true.