Board of Immigration Appeals Guts Legal Protections for Immigrants Under Arrest
August 15, 2011 Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council strongly condemns last week’s ruling from the Board of Immigration Appeals holding that immigrants arrested without a warrant are not entitled to certain Miranda-like warnings prior to questioning by immigration officers. In a precedent decision, the Board held that noncitizens need not be informed of their right to counsel or warned that their statements can be used against them until after they have been placed in formal deportation proceedings. For decades, immigrants placed under arrest have been entitled to these critical advisals. Like “Miranda" warnings for criminal suspects, such notifications help to ensure that statements made during questioning are not the product of coercion. As a result of last week’s ruling, noncitizens under arrest will now be even more vulnerable to pressure from interrogating officers, and immigration judges will face greater difficulty determining whether statements made during questioning were truly voluntary. “This decision epitomizes the substandard system of justice that’s been created and imposed on immigrants in the United States," said Melissa Crow, Director of the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center. “The Board’s ruling renders the advisals practically meaningless and makes immigrants less likely to remain silent when questioned and less likely to assert their right to counsel."
The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative tribunal on immigration and nationality matters in the United States. Decisions of the Board may be subject to review by federal courts or by the Attorney General. The ruling came in Matter of E-R-M-F- & A-S-M-, 25 I&N Dec. 580 (BIA 2011).
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