Going to Held

Detention Nightmare: Immigrant Agrees to Deportation, but Government Snafus Intervene

What's more, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2001 that indefinite detention of noncitizens was unconstitutional. According to Lucas Guttentag, director of the ACLU's Immigrants Rights Project, that ruling is being implemented unevenly, with some Circuit Courts siding with the government's narrow and technical interpretation. In any case, Guttentag notes, the government has "shifted the burden back to the individual detainee to litigate a right that ought to be automatic." Meanwhile, in a ruling last April, the Supreme Court asserted that noncitizens do not have the same constitutional rights as citizens.

In the post-9-11 climate, says Guttentag, cases like Earl White's "end up being fairly low on the list of priorities," and last year's reshuffling of the INS has done little to streamline its procedures. "Failure of management, lack of resources, inability to control the actions of their own bureaucrats, chaotic implementation of policy based on local officials' arbitrary decisions—these are not fixed by shifting the structure."

Just last week, McKee learned that her client is scheduled to be sent to Guyana later this month. The travel office has assured her that it has White's documents.

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