RJ Infusion

Bill Ong Hing HeadshotA recent article by Huffington Post Contributor, Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco highlighted the one-year anniversary of a Supreme Court decision in Padilla v Kentucky. In a two-part series on Infusing Restorative Justice into the Deportation System, he lays out the complexities and inherent drawbacks of current immigration laws.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Padilla v. Kentucky -- a deportation case involving a 40-year lawful permanent resident of the United States who was a Vietnam War veteran. About 10 years ago, José Padilla, a commercial truck driver, based on advice from his defense attorney, pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana. His attorney had told him, incorrectly, that the conviction would not affect his immigration status. In fact, the conviction led to an automatic deportation order. Because of the incompetence of his attorney, the Supreme Court set aside Padilla's conviction, and imposed a duty on criminal defense attorneys to provide competent advice to noncitizens about potential immigration consequences in all future cases.

"The Padilla case is important, of course, but an underlying problem persists: after competent defense advice is given to long-time lawful permanent residents, a conviction for certain crimes -- including a couple of petty thefts -- can still lead to deportation. And if the conviction is classified as an "aggravated felony," deportation is virtually automatic." (read more)

Mexican ManThe author points out that “Americans by Choice” could be better served by using a restorative approach premised on the goal of rehabilitating the individual. Group therapy, counseling or even job training can be a beneficial alternative to deportation. The restorative processes do not hold conventional criminal justice institutions (courts, police and probation departments) solely responsible for the outcome. "Social networks including family, friends, neighbors, church, and employers must step up to make the process work." (Professor Ong Hing) It keeps families and communities together. Immigration and Human Trafficking laws are changing locally and nationally. Initiatives are underway to bring to light the issues surrounding outdated and ineffective laws that tear families apart unnecessarily.

Infusion of restorative processes into Kentucky immigration and human trafficking initiatives builds on the proven track record of restorative justice.

Using mediation and mitigation, training and educating professionals and approaching revisions in the law in a compassionate manner can ease the transition for Kentucky immigrants to become fully integrated citizens. Restorative justice is an effective tool that can be used to reduce the difficulties associated with assimilation into American culture. Restorative processes are key attributes when identifying, rehabilitating and restoring human trafficking victims to happy, fulfilling lives.

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on."

Henry Ellis

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