At odds are differing policies at the state and federal levels, with the first clearing Castaneda’s name in every way possible but the second saying that her conviction essentially still holds. “Every criminal legal reform that we’ve passed, I’ve seen federal immigration attorneys attempt to argue that those reforms don’t pass muster in immigration court,” Immigrant Legal Resource Center Senior Staff Attorney Rose Cahn told The Guardian. “It’s infuriating.”
What can Biden do? listen to immigration activist Juan Escalante on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast
Castaneda was convicted of murder when a friend of hers shot at a rival gang member 20 years ago, killing a person in the process. The report said that while “prosecutors did not allege that she took part in the killing or had any role in planning it,” or even charged the actual shooter with anything, Castaneda was the one sent to prison for life under an archaic policy. She’d never been in trouble with the law before.
Advocates tell The Guardian they hope the Biden administration can help stop many of these senseless deportations, by reversing a policy change by former Attorney General Bill Barr.
That policy change stopped a rule “that enabled some immigrants to avoid deportation if their criminal sentences were retroactively lowered,” the report said. Advocates note that Newsom also plays a hugely significant role, and can direct the state to stop turning people over to ICE in the first place. ”When state and federal immigration policies clash, migrants bear the burden,” tweeted the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
As noted earlier this week, in the case of a Salvadoran asylum-seeker who was unlawfully deported despite numerous court rulings that said he should remain in the U.S. while his case continues, ICE ruthlessly targets people, regardless of immigration status. That includes deporting at least 70 U.S. citizens in recent years. There may be more, but we don’t know, because of ICE’s shoddy record-keeping. The federal government has also had to pay thousands of dollars in settlements for wrongful detentions.
The Guardian reports that Castaneda is asking for the federal government to “give us a second chance, allow us to do it right, to prove ourselves.” During the time that she’s been incarcerated, she’s earned multiple degrees and has become a peer mentor to other incarcerated people. She even has an advocacy job lined up for herself—if she’s allowed to go home.
“Check our records and you can see we tried to change our lives,” she continued in the report. “Don’t just send us back to what we don’t know.” Castaneda has not called Mexico home since 1991.
“Sandra's case is far from unique,” tweeted Asian Law Caucus Immigrant Rights Staff Attorney Anoop Prasad. “For decades, ICE has fought every effort by states to correct injustices in the criminal system. The question is why does California continue to work with ICE and assist them in undermining its own laws.” Help free Sandra Castaneda by calling (202) 732-5000 and urging the ICE Office of the Principal Legal Advisor to not doubly punish an innocent person.
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ICE may have deported up to 70 U.S. citizens in recent years—and there could be even more