By Farhad Sethna, Attorney, © 2018
The Justice Department under Jeff Sessions, in a bid to save the taxpayer six million dollars per year, has cancelled a legal assistance program for detained aliens. The program did not directly represent aliens in immigration court, but provided information to aliens on their rights, the immigration court processes, and the various possible forms of relief (possible protections from deportation or removal) that they might be eligible to seek.
The program, by the Justice Department’s own prior study in 2012, saved the taxpayer an estimated $ 18 million per year, most of it from savings in the cost of detaining aliens in prisons. So, spend $ 6 million to save $ 18 million. Simple math indicates a net savings of $ 12 million.
The savings come because aliens who know their rights and know the court process file correct applications, keep deadlines, understand the type of evidence they need to prove their cases, and are sometimes able to secure pro-bono attorneys. All laudable goals for a nation that prides itself on the rule of law.
But there is a new sheriff in town, and a new paradigm flowing out of the White House: Make Rich Americans Richer Still.
How is that, you might ask?
Prisons, especially for immigration detainees, are a big business. Most are run by publicly traded companies, not by the government. So there is a big profit motive to private companies to keep the prisons full. More beds full equals more dollars paid by the government to the private prison operator. Therefore, each fiscal year, hundreds of millions are paid to private prison companies.
Yet, Sessions wants to valiantly save the US taxpayer six million dollars. It would save taxpayers a lot more if people were not detained in the first place, or their detentions were shortened.
What’s the final outcome? Trump’s and Session’s misguided policy: the US Constitution be damned – cut funding for legal services to detained aliens, and make sure that private prison operators, who give lavishly to the party in power, keep their prisons (and pockets) full.
That’s the six-million dollar question: Who’s really in charge in Washington? A so-called President who is deep in his own daily mess, or a elite group of high-rollers able to enrich themselves at the cost of the ordinary American?
Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 25 years. He was awarded his JD in 1990 and his MBA in 1991, both from the University of Akron. Since 1996, he has also been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio, where he wrote and used his own immigration textbook. Attorney Sethna is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. He has won awards for excellence in teaching and for pro-bono service. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and New Philadelphia, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases before federal agencies and the immigration courts nationwide. A private pilot, it is Farhad’s goal to fly to each of Ohio’s 88 county airports. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.