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editorial

Greater oversight is needed in shrouded immigration courts

The Globe’s three-part series, “Justice in the shadows,” shined a bright light on the system that has been set up to process tens of thousands of immigrants who are rounded up for the crime of being in this country without proper documentation. Unlike other crimes, this one doesn’t come with the usual set of rights and guarantee of procedural fairness: In setting up mechanisms to deal with non-Americans, the United States seemed to go out of its way to insist that its highest principles apply only to its citizens and properly documented visitors. Far too often, families are torn apart and detainees are shut off from legal help and communication with loved ones.

Taxpayers pay billions of dollars for this shadow world, but based on extensive reporting by the Globe’s Maria Sacchetti and Milton Valencia, it does little to enhance security or keep people from entering the country without proper documentation. More daylight is needed, not only to address incidents of injustice, but also to police instances in which immigration authorities lack the legal levers necessary to keep dangerous people off the streets.

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