Prosecutors in the United States claim that they are unable to meet the demands of a judge that requires them to produce documents relating to thousands of immigrants who have been held in detention all over the country for months, or in some cases years, while they wait for their immigration status to be reviewed.
The government’s position was laid out to District Judge Richard M Berman by the office of Attorney Preet Bharara in a letter that was made public last week. The letter arrived five days after Berman criticized the government, saying that they had been on notice since the documents had been requested by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) almost five years ago. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was eventually filed by the ACLU two years ago.
The Union has criticized the practice of “prolonged immigration detention – for months, if not years – without adequate procedures in place to determine whether their detention is justified.” They cited an alarming increase in the amount of immigration detainees over the course of the last few decades, noting that they are in detention not because of criminal offences but to make sure they are easily available to be removed if appeals are exhausted and deportation is ordered.
Berman says that the continued refusal of the government to produce documents has been partly responsible for stymieing efforts to reform a system under which thousands of immigrants languish in jail. The government now claims it is not feasible to produce such documents.