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March 19, 2006

Bringing back banishment as a sentencing option?

With thanks to Alablawg for the tip, readers interested in immigration and sentencing will want to check out this story from Alabama reporting that "illegal Hispanic immigrants booked on minor offenses in Hoover last year were often put in jail without bond and ordered to leave the country by Jefferson County District Judge Robert Cahill."  Here are some more details:

[In] 11 cases where a Hispanic defendant pleaded guilty in his courtroom, [Cahill] banished the defendants from Alabama....  Cahill, for example, ordered Leopoldo Chipahua-Gomez, who was 19 and said he worked at the Bottega Italian restaurant, "to leave Alabama and not return," a Jefferson County court file shows.  He ordered J. Carmen Pacheco-Villa, who was 38 and said he worked at the Birmingham Country Club, to "leave Alabama and USA." And he ordered Gustavo Flores, 32, no occupation listed, to "leave Alabama and go to Mexico."

Cahill said for years he has ordered defendants, not just Hispanics, to leave a city or leave the state.  He said neither lawyers nor defendants have questioned such orders.  "If I can't, somebody could appeal it," Cahill said. "If I can't do it, then someone should tell me I'm wrong."

Legal experts say state judges ordering defendants to leave the country is out of the ordinary....  "I've never heard of this before," said Dan Kesselbrenner, of the National Immigration Project. "Most judges realize it's not their role.  Immigration judges decide who can stay and who can go." Kesselbrenner said state law doesn't allow banishment orders, and numerous appeals cases have upheld that position.

Alablawg reacts by venting here and sharing "some semi-rational thoughts" here.

March 19, 2006 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

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