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Working for fairness in immigration laws

Northeastern’s newest law professor, an expert on immigration policy, says it is too easy to detain and deport immigrants, even green-card holders, on minor legal infractions.

What’s more, says Rachel Rosenbloom, changes made to immigration laws in 1996 have led to increased incidents of wrongful deportation—situations nearly impossible to resolve through the American legal system.

“There are a lot of errors in the system, which gives very broad powers (related to detention and deportation) to authorities, with very little oversight from the courts,” says Rosenbloom, assistant professor of law. “Even permanent residents can be deported over a minor infraction, and once they’re gone, they are often barred from the United States for life.

“Many people have been deported in error, and even if they leave behind family members who are U.S. citizens, there is no legal mechanism to allow them to return to the U.S.”

Joining Northeastern from Boston College, where she was a fellow at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Rosenbloom plans to continue researching and writing on the need for changes to U.S. immigration policy.

Laws concerning drugs and other legal infractions are much more stringent for immigrants than they are for U.S. citizens, she notes, explaining that a longtime legal resident can be subject to mandatory detention and deportation for selling $5 worth of marijuana.

Newer laws, aimed at fast-tracking deportation, only increase the chance that errors will occur, she adds.
“There are so many people who are marooned without legal remedy,” Rosenbloom says, adding that her current research focuses on extending the reach of the American legal system to provide recourse to those who have been wrongly deported.

Rosenbloom testified in February 2008 before a U.S. House subcommittee on the wrongful detention and deportation of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and also participated in a recent roundtable discussion on immigration enforcement New York University (NYU) School of Law.

Prior to earning her law degree from NYU in 2002, Rosenbloom worked for a number of years in international human rights documentation and immigrant rights advocacy. She has also practiced labor law with a particular focus on immigrant workers, and has clerked in federal district court.

At Northeastern, Rosenbloom plans to continue to research and write about abuses related to the treatment of immigrants.

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