Guam’s Attorney General would have advised Calvo to “proceed cautiously” on deportations
- Category: News
- Published: Thursday, 18 August 2016 07:40
- Written by Pacific Daily News
- Hits: 2409
From an article in Pacific Daily News
August 2, 2016
Guam—According to an article by Guam’s Pacific Daily News, Guam’s elected Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson has raised concerns that Governor Eddie Calvo’s actions to send three convicted migrants back to Chuuk could potentially raise “racial-bias” concerns.
PDN reports that she is putting together “legal guidelines for the agencies at the front line of the governor’s actions, including the Department of Corrections and the local Customs and Quarantine Agency, to help them avoid potential civil-rights lawsuits.
She said that she wasn’t consulted before the Governor signed the executive orders commutating the prisoners’ sentences and using the word “deportation” in the text of the executive order.
“I would have said, Governor, proceed cautiously,” Barrett-Anderson told the PDN.
According to a Question and Answer styled press release by the Governor’s office, “At this point, removals are voluntary with the condition that the person never steps foot on Guam again...If a removed person returns, they could face serving the balance of their sentence at the point of commutation, or being sent home on the next flight out,” the release said.
He claimed in his press release that his actions were a matter of Public Safety. “Those who are on Guam by virtue of visa or a treaty face the possibility of removal if they break Guam and U.S. laws.”
The attorney general told PDN that in a case appealed in the 9th Circuit Court, a trial judge’s order for a convicted foreign criminal to depart and never return to the United States which would separate the inmate from his U.S.-based family was considered a form of judicial banishment of “draconian” proportions.
While the government of Guam is immune from civil-rights lawsuits, government officials and employees don’t have the same legal shield, she told PDN.
She told PDN that she disagrees wholeheartedly with the Governor’s claims that he has residual authority under the federal Organic Act to deport people.
She said that Governor Calvo quoted law from 64 years ago when the Federal Government appointed Guam’s Governor.
On the other hand, Barrett-Anderson told PDN that the governor acted within his Organic Act authority to commute, or shorten the sentence of a convict, and to enter an agreement for that inmate to leave the island and never return.
In his Q&A press release, Governor Calvo said, “While public safety is the primary objective of this effort, there are economic benefits that cannot be ignored. The cost to house a non-U.S. citizen in Guam’s prison system has been estimated by Department of Corrections officials $119 a day or $43,435 per year. This costs more than a one-way airline ticket; the most recent removals cost approximately $400.
DOC officials estimate that there are approximately 200 non-U.S. citizens in Guam’s prison system. At this rate, Guam taxpayers are spending an estimated $8.6 million per year housing non-U.S. citizen inmates. These public funds would be better spent improving the quality of life in the areas of public health, education and public safety.”
Guam’s AG told PDN that the local government must solve the inmate-crowding problem the right way, she said.
“It has to be racially neutral,” she said.
Foreigners, including those who are called “illegal aliens,” have constitutional rights to due process, which means they have the right to a deportation hearing before they can be deported, the attorney general told PDN.
Calvo said in his Q&A press release that he has met with FSM officials who told him that they are facing the same issue with foreign vessels illegally fishing in their waters. He claimed that FSM is dealing with those violators in the same way that Guam is dealing with FSM violators of their law—a one way ticket home.
It’s a bit of an overstated representation of FSM’s law enforcement problems for foreign violators of the law.
Calvo’s press release says, “This process will continue as long as the safety of Guam’s law-abiding U.S. and non-U.S. citizens are at risk and/or when the federal government begins prioritizing this matter.”