Longtime Legal Resident Finally Gets His Day in Court

Last Friday, the federal district court in Buffalo, New York affirmed a basic constitutional principle: no one should be locked up for prolonged periods of time without a hearing as to whether they should be detained in the first place.

Longtime lawful permanent resident Errol Barrington Scarlett has spent more than five and a half years in immigration detention while fighting his deportation case. Now within 60 days, he will for the first time go before a judge to determine whether his detention is justified

Mr. Scarlett has lived in the United States for over thirty years, has four children and numerous siblings, all of whom are U.S. citizens, and is eligible for cancellation of removal—a permanent form of immigration relief. Yet the government has subjected him to years of mandatory detention while seeking to deport him based on a non-violent, decade-old drug possession offense for which he already served his sentence.

The government currently detains thousands of immigrants for months or even years, at great expense to taxpayers, while their deportation cases are being decided. Like Mr. Scarlett, many of these immigrants likely have a right to stay in the country based on, for example, their fear of persecution in their home countries or their ties to family and community here in the United States. Yet detention forces them to make the awful choice between fighting their cases from jail or giving up their rights to home and safe haven.

While the government should certainly not release someone when they have a reason to detain them, everyone has a right to their day in court.

Mr. Scarlett is represented by the ACLU, the New York Civil Liberties Union and pro bono counsel from Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

You can listen to a podcast of Michael Tan interviewing Mr. Scarlett here:


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Why isn't this case getting more airtime in major media?

An outrage!

Especially since the ICE is cracking down hard now in Texas. Anybody else notice this going on?

Houston PD now has a carte blanche to detain and arrest for not producing papers on demand (considered probable cause for immigration violations). The general public seems to be cheering this on.

Spotlight needed here urgently.

American from 1800's

If you enter the US by the back door you should be deported. Only kids by the back door should not be Americans. Things need to change. One may think they are American but you are not and the laws must change.

I have to be an...

Americans don't want illegals here in such massive numbers. We're at a tipping point and if nothing is done all of Mexico's poor people will be here. This is not good for our country. We're generous cause we like to help but obviously illegals have tipped the boat and we can't sustain on this road we're on. We need reduced numbers of illegals otherwise we will always be in a recession.


Fact: We have had a system to become an American citizen for decades. It was put in place for those who seek freedom and safe haven but also wish to become a vivacious part of the greatest land on Earth - America. Those individuals who have chosen to go around it illegally have committed a crime against each of us and all those before them who used this same system to 'legally' become American citizens.

Observation: Our passive society has missed the ship here - If all the illegal aliens, PLUS all persons whom they created here or abroad (a.k.a. 'Offspring') were allowed to become naturalized citizens in the manner that all those before them used to become legal American citizens, how much relief would be created on the judicial branch (courts, police, prisons) and on our healthcare system (hospitals, doctors, nurses etc..), our education system or on society in general?

We are, have been and will likely always be the most generous nation on the planet. However, when generosity from all of us is expected with no sensible plan as to how and who is going to pay for it, it has to be the tipping point. This is where the economic impact and reality of what it does to our nation takes over the utopian dreams, hopes and socialized goverment handouts which are breaking the bank. It is called our national treasury and it is broken. Work and education visas for visitors here are wonderful tools that help both America and our welcome visitors. The biggest failure is the US government which has never had a system in place that controls, monitors or qualifies these individuals that are 'visitors' here and has always been a disaster due to their inadequate ability in doing anything right.

I feel these are some of the American citizens civil rights issues that should be mandated and considered worthy to pursue by groups such as the ACLU. Money much wiser spent than on the story above.

Socialist Worker

Most generous nation? US government wipes two cites out with one bomb each. US government runs blood bath called Korean police action. US government brings democracy to Vietnam while blacks fight for right to vote in US elections. US government brings terrorism to Iraq and Afganistan and claims right to touture. We need to rid the planet of this "generous" system.

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