Relying on the Unreliable: Challenging USCIS’s Use of Police Reports and Arrest Records in Affirmative Immigration Proceedings
Although many scholars have recognized the need for increased procedural protections for immigrants in removal proceedings, very little attention has been paid to the process afforded to immigrants applying affirmatively to acquire lawful status. However, due to the collection of important interests implicated by affirmative immigration proceedings, procedure still matters even if deportation is not immediately at stake. This Note helps to fill the scholarly gap by discussing a relatively recent phenomenon in affirmative immigration practice: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ requests for and reliance on police reports, arrest records, and other documents underlying any contact an applicant has had with the criminal justice system, even when the charges were ultimately dropped or the applicant was acquitted. This practice is particularly problematic in light of the unreliability of these documents, the role they play in the adjudication of applications, and the difficulty applicants face in appealing unfavorable decisions. Thus, this Note argues that not only is USCIS’s policy unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act, but it also violates the guarantee of Due Process provided by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.