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Focus on lurid crimes distracts from more pressing issues

The Globe’s three-part series “Justice in the shadows” (Dec. 9-11) brought much-needed attention to the many serious problems plaguing our nation’s immigration detention system. The secrecy of this system, coupled with the lack of legal representation for detainees, has led to an almost complete lack of accountability. Detainees are routinely mistreated, denied basic medical care, and pressured into giving up their claims to remain in the United States.

Although I was glad to see these issues explored, the tone of the first article (“Unwanted at home, free to strike again”) fell short of the high standards that I have come to expect from the Globe. Providing lurid examples of immigrants who have committed horrific crimes is a surefire way to catch readers’ attention. Statistics consistently show, however, that immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than those born in the United States.

Those who do commit crimes are subject to all of the same criminal sanctions as citizens. If an immigrant ends up in the deportation system, it is because a sentence has been served and the criminal process has come to an end.


There are many problems to be addressed in the immigration detention system, but failing to protect Americans from crime is not one of them. To the extent that we are concerned about safety, let’s turn our attention to the criminal justice system rather than seeking answers in a civil detention system that was never designed for that purpose.

Rachel E. Rosenbloom
Associate professor of law
Northeastern University
School of Law