The Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, the National Immigration Law Center and other immigration rights advocacies collaborated on a report titled “Deportation without Due Process,” which was published last September.
Jayashri Srikantiah, law professor and director of the Stanford Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, said the report hoped to draw attention to the federal process of stipulated removal.
Through the stipulated removal program, which was initiated in the early 2000s, immigrants held in detention could sign off an order for their own deportation without a hearing with an immigration judge beforehand. According to the report, these immigrants are often either unaware of what other legal options they may have or not informed of the order’s true implications.
Srikantiah said the program was first revealed at a liaison meeting three years ago.
“We had heard at one of the informal meetings between advocates and the immigration authorities that there would be a new program that was being rolled out,” Srikantiah said. “That’s all we heard – that there would be a new program and it would be called ‘stipulated removal.’”
According to Jennifer Koh, lead author of the report and former teaching fellow at the Law School, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic then decided to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information about the program. Their request was denied, prompting litigation drafted and run by members of the Stanford clinic, including Srikantiah.
“It’s because of our work under the Freedom of Information Act and our litigation that we finally have a lot of information about the program, and what we’ve learned is very, very troubling,” Srikantiah said.
The Law School handled the litigation on behalf of the National Immigration Law Center, the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter and the ACLU of Southern California. Eventually, the suit resulted in more than 20,000 pages of records elaborating on the program’s implementation and revealed that over 100,000 immigrants had already been subjected to it. The report, available online on the Stanford Law School website, serves as a synthesis of the acquired records.
“Now you have on the website what is really the country’s first fully comprehensive examination of the stipulated removal program,” Koh said.
Koh said the report sheds light on the constitutional issues that arise from the stipulated removal program, including how immigrants’ due process rights were short-circuited because of how the program was implemented.
According to the report, examples of such short-circuiting include poor quality of paperwork translation, no proper explanation of what rights immigrants forfeit by signing the order and, most importantly, no access to lawyers or legal support.
“The vast majority of immigrants who are signing these orders don’t have lawyers, so they have no idea that they might actually be able to be released from detention on bail,” Koh said. “They may not know that they’re actually eligible to fight their deportation and have a chance to remain in the U.S. They don’t know this because they don’t have lawyers.”
She said the stipulation removal program adds another obstacle for immigrants in detention.
“Under stipulated removal, a person never has a chance to see the immigration judge at all because the idea is that you agree to your own removal without having a chance to go to court,” Koh said.
Along with revealing the details of the program, the reports also provides recommendations on how the federal government could change the program’s implementation with no cost and under legal terms. One such recommendation includes having an immigration judge hold a brief hearing in order to determine if an immigrant fully understands the legal consequences of the order before anyone signs off on it.
According to Koh, the report serves as a spotlight on a program that been hidden from public knowledge for over a decade.
“For all of us who are working in the immigration advocacy field, our work is motivated by a desire to see greater overall fairness in the process and to be able to see the laws implemented in the way they are supposed to be constitutionally fulfilled,” Koh said.