Deportee's lifeline - US appeal body says some Jamaicans deported without proper procedure followed
Thousands of Jamaicans deported from the United States could be given a chance to return to that country if a ruling by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals in the case of a convicted gangster is used as precedent in other deportation cases.
Head of the local Deportee Assistance Unit (DAU), Dr Jephthah Ford, was gushing last week as he told The Sunday Gleaner that the American agency ruled that the US Depart-ment of Homeland Security has been deporting individuals without affording them a chance to appeal the decision.
Ford said the ruling was handed down on January 8 after the DAU filed a motion stating that Jamaican Calvin Inswood, who was arrested on a string of drug and gun crimes, had been unfairly deported.
According to US laws, an alien facing deportation is entitled to due process to have his removal proceedings considered by an immigration judge, but Ford said the DAU has successfully argued that there are several cases of no judicial review of the deportation determination.
"Mr Inswood was arrested for drug possession, drug distribution and also gun crimes. He is the exact type of person the US would want to get out of the country," said Ford.
"We went to the Board of Immigration Appeals in the US Department of Justice because we felt they would not see the man, they would see the law, and that is what happened.
"The lesser court would consider the man and say, 'No, we not making him come back'. But the Board of Immigration Appeals didn't look at the man, they looked at the law. So it sets a precedent for every deportee that was denied the chance to go before an immigration judge."
According to Ford, it took a team, including Shechem Lafayette, executive director of the DAU, close to five months to prepare its case to present to the immigration judges.
He argued that lawyers at the US Department of Homeland Security must have known about the law and blatantly ignored it.
"They must have known, and that is why we say that if they oppose it, they would only be embarrassing themselves about their knowledge of the law."
Lafayette said that Inswood was deported in 1997 and proved a perfect test case.
"We chose his case because he had an extensive criminal record. Most of the deportees were sent home for drug possession and so on, but when you compare them with Mr Inswood, his criminal record far outweighs those," said Lafayette.
"If we can be successful in winning his case, we can succeed with a bulk of deportees to return to the States," said Lafayette.
He noted that Inswood is currently in the western end of the island waiting to return to the United States.