The Obama administration has been sued by former U.S. Marine James Makowski for unlawfully detaining him in a maximum-security federal prison in Potomac, Illinois for two months for a suspected immigration violation. Mr. Makowski is a United States citizen.
Mr. Makowski, a computer network specialist, was adopted and became a naturalized United States citizen when he was one. The problem is that he was born in India, and presumably doesn't look "American," whatever that is supposed to look like.
His attorney, Geoffrey A. Vance, stated that the Obama administration detained Makowski after relying on faulty computer information they obtained through the Secure Communities program, and "never bothered to check."
Another fine example of "smart immigration enforcement" at work.
When I heard about this "computer malfunction" I couldn't help but think of the infamous words of computer HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: a Space Odyssey: "I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you."
Sure you do.
Makowski's justifiable response to this major league F-up: "I've been here my whole life, I was raised like an upper-middle-class American. But I didn't feel American when I had that detainer put on me."
For those not aware, the Secure Communities program, which was greatly expanded by President Obama after his election, authorizes the cross checking of fingerprints of individuals booked into local jails with FBI and DHS databases for suspected immigration violations. In basic terms, it authorizes a fishing expedition against people of color.
The end result is that if the computer says there is a suspected immigration violation federal agents issue an immigration detainer authorizing local authorities to hold an individual for up to 48 hours, or two months as the case may be.
It has been recently discovered that the FBI and ICE are using traffic stops to cross check the fingerprints of individuals that have never been charged with any criminal violation, let alone booked into a local jail.
The administration's public relations spin is that Secure Communities is being used to deport dangerous criminals.
Add a growing number of United States citizens to that list.
It has been reported that this is the first legal challenge to Secure Communities. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois, and charges violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, which specifically restricts the release of information between government agencies where an individual is not suspected of an immigration violation.
Incidentally, I wonder what is the color of the skin of the people that are typically suspected of immigration violations.
As Congressman Luis Gutierrez has astutely observed, I'm guessing they don't look like Justin Bieber.
Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).