The Security Risks when Cities Provide Funds to Fight Deportation

By Dan Cadman, January 24, 2017

Britain, which is attempting to deport radical Islamist preacher Hani al-Sibai, has reportedly over the course of several years provided him with £123,000 in legal aid to fight the effort.

It seems topsy-turvy, in fact downright crazy, doesn't it, that a government would give an alien the funds to fight that same government's effort to remove him? Especially when the alien is a hate-filled zealot who sits like poison in the heart of a western democracy with the avowed intent to subvert it at every turn?

Here in the United States, we can rest secure in the assurance this would not happen, because the law is clear that aliens fighting deportation have the right to an attorney — but only at their own expense. (See Sec. 292 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.) Or can we?

First, readers should be aware that over the past several years of the Obama administration, efforts have been undertaken to erode that statutory prohibition through provision of various "legal education" grants to nongovernmental organizations — virtually all of which are migrant advocacy groups that believe legal representation of aliens should be borne at taxpayer expense, and some of which have been quite strident in making it known that deportation is offensive to their progressive open-border views, no matter who is the respondent in the removal proceeding.

Some of our more liberal lawmakers in Congress have also introduced bills seeking to change the statute on the theory that removal proceedings should be equated to criminal proceedings, in which defendants are routinely granted counsel at government expense when they "can't afford" counsel at their own expense.

Funny, isn't it, how progressive lawmakers and migrant advocacy groups go to such lengths to stress that deportation proceedings should be distinguished from criminal proceedings because they are civil in nature, when it suits their purposes (such as encouraging state and local law enforcement to ignore immigration detainers) — but at other times (such as using the public purse to defend aliens against deportation) they are so anxious to draw parallels between the two types of proceedings?

I don't think the effort to modify Section 292 will succeed during the Trump administration, particularly if Sen. Jeff Sessions is at the helm of the Justice Department. But let's put that aside for a moment and recollect that a number of major metropolitan areas — New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago among them — have already initiated programs to provide lawyers to aliens in removal proceedings at local taxpayers' expense.

It is convenient — but naïve — for denizens of those cities to think that the funds will be used solely to help "downtrodden" aliens fight efforts to remove them. Inevitably, and almost certainly, some of the applicants for this local largesse will be individuals who are the likes of al Sibai. How sadly ironic, because the cities involved are those most at risk from acts of terrorism, whether directly organized by Islamist groups abroad, or by so-called "lone wolves" whose minds are poisoned by the exhortations of radical preachers like al Sibai and the now-deceased Anwar al Awlaki.

While my worst instincts include a certain smug schadenfreude when I realize that these are exactly the type of individuals who would use these cities' foolish generosity against them by alleging abuse of discretion and suing, should they be denied representational funding, my more mature self kicks in right afterward, hoping (perhaps against hope) that other mature individuals, perhaps outraged taxpaying residents of the affected cities, will also see this problem in the making and take the steps needed to short-circuit such representational funds whether by lawsuit or plebiscite, or whatever other legal mechanisms are available to them in their respective jurisdictions.