LOS ANGELES - Yesterday, hundreds of detained immigrants at the Mira Loma Detention Center held a peaceful demonstration to protest unreasonably long delays in their cases. Many detainees wait weeks to see a judge and months to resolve their immigration cases. During this time, these detainees are separated from their families, who struggle to survive without them. While detainees must be allowed time to prepare their cases where necessary, those seeking a speedy trial should not have to wait for months.
The government admits that it was aware of the backlog and sent officials to speak with the detainees after the protest. What the government should have done is offer the detainees prompt hearings. Instead, it offered to deport them. Sadly, more than one hundred people waived their rights to a hearing and agreed to be deported rather than languish in detention and wait indefinitely to see a judge.
The government told the Supreme Court two years ago that deportation hearings are usually completed within 47 days, and almost always within five months. This tragic incident shows that this is simply not true.
The right to a prompt hearing is fundamental to our justice system. It is unacceptable for the government to keep someone in jail for months on end without seeing a judge - whether in Lancaster, California or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The government must take measures to ensure prompt access to judges for detained immigrants.