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Migrants say their constitutional rights have been violated

Migrants say their rights have been violated at the U.S./Mexico border
Posted at 6:45 AM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 09:42:08-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — At the Texas and Mexico border, a number of migrants are speaking out through attorneys saying their constitutional rights have been violated.

Although the topic is debated, among scholars and judges, non-citizens do have rights under the constitution, and one of those rights is habeas corpus.

The Arkansas Journal of social change and public service says undocumented immigrants are not just entitled to the basic fundamental human rights, but are also covered by the Constitution of the United States by virtue of being physically present in the country.

The same way it applied to enemy combatants held at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay in a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Boumediene v. Bush, which held that the basic right of habeas corpus to challenge illegal detentions extends even to non-citizens on foreign territory.

Now, Governor Greg Abbott's press office says the state of Texas is investing $3 billion in tax dollars on border security and blames the the Biden administration for "ignoring border communities."

In June, Abbott ordered the arrest of migrants on state trespassing charges if they are found illegally crossing the border. So far, Texas law enforcement has detained around 1,300 migrants.

Lawyers say many have been held in prisons without actually being charged and without legal representation.

Attorneys say, in some cases, some people have disappeared and their families couldn't find them.

"Because charges hadn't been filed against them, there was no official record in the clerk's office that they even existed," attorney Amrutha Jindal said.

In a recent legislative committee hearing the Texas Defense Commission testified 155 people were arrested and went weeks without counsel. And while Abbott announced he wants to arrest criminals, more than 1,300 men have been arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

The attorney whose legal aide group represents about 560 of them has testified many of them are asylum seekers.

State officials say they're now meeting regularly to make sure those arrested get counsel in a timely manner and public defenders say they will continue to look into the accusations made by migrants.