Immigrants in the U.S. illegally have no right to free legal counsel, so the vast majority who appear in immigration court stand alone before a judge. A new initiative suggests just how valuable legal aid can be. Since 2013, the New York Immigrant Family Unit Program has provided publicly funded attorneys for poor detainees in removal proceedings at a Manhattan immigration court. And deportations there have plunged.
The arrest and conviction of Dennis Hardee, of Philadelphia, was nothing unusual in the annals of America's Drug War. In 2013, he was convicted of taking part in a conspiracy to rob a cocaine stash house and then sell the proceeds. As it happened, there was also nothing unusual in the fact that both the stash house and the drugs were invented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—a common tactic aimed at going after violent predators in the drug trade. What was unusual, however, was the sentence handed down in January 2015. Although Hardee could have received 30 years to life—or at the least the 10-year mandatory minimum established for convictions involving a large amount of narcotics—he actually received seven years and eight months.