immigration detention: Page 1
Ian Urbina of the New York Times offers "Using Jailed Migrants as a Pool of Cheap Labor" (link). At the best, it's agenda-driven journalism, and if you respond in the way Urbina and the NYT want you to, you'll help make the situation even worse.
Imagine you're in a room with a barking dog, a stomping elephant, and a dishonest politician. The politician keeps harping on how he's going to do something about the barking dog, but completely ignores the stomping elephant in the room. Shortly before the elephant has crushed all the furniture, you might wonder why the politician keeps ignoring the elephant. You might even wonder if the politician is in the pay of the elephant.
John Morton of the Department of Homeland Security spoke at the Migration Policy Institute yesterday about reforms he's making concerning immigration detention. The Immigration Policy Center has a report here, and their summary of his upcoming reforms includes:
* [...centralizing] facilities [which] would be managed at the top by federal employees subject to clear, transparent, and fully implemented detention standards (though Morton told the crowd at MPI that they must be "patient" on revised detention standards, as ICE is trying to find something that works for both advocates and contractors, and is cost-effective).
* Reducing the number of detention facilities. ICE detains 32,000 people per day and around 380,000 per year. Morton stressed the importance of keeping the system compact and organized (ICE has already eliminated 50 facilities under Morton’s watch).
...* Finally, Morton talked about ICE’s preference to detain only criminal immigrants. He detailed ICE’s desire for smart, cost-effective alternatives to detention in order to ensure court appearances for non-criminal immigrants who pose a flight risk. Morton revealed that the Executive Office for Immigration Review is conducting a pilot program for alternatives to detention, and that after testing is complete there could be 16,000-17,000 slots available for immigrants to be placed in these programs.
Considering that - just like the Bush administration - the Obama administration has little use for immigration enforcement aside from as a way to get amnesty, and considering that a very large percentage of those released with a promise to appear never follow through, the last is more than a bit worrisome. While something like electronic monitoring makes sense as an alternative to detention in many cases, the question is whether they'd design the program to fail or whether they'd actually intend for it to work.
Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation’s immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Even in 2008, when The New York Times obtained and published a federal government list of such deaths, few facts were available about who these people were and how they died.
But behind the scenes, it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry...
...Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview that the newly disclosed records represented the past, and that the agency’s new leaders were committed to transparency and greater oversight, including prompt public disclosure and investigation of every death, and more attention to detainee care in a better-managed system.
Those documents were obtained by the NYT in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, and it's a good thing that they uncovered the documents. While the individual situations are definitely tragic and reforms need to be enacted, it also has to be pointed out that a major investor in the NYT is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and the ACLU is directly collaborating with the Mexican government. Their goal - and the goal of many who will promote the NYT story - isn't simply to highlight government malfeasance in order to enact reforms. Their goal is to prevent as much immigration enforcement as possible.
DHS revising rules on immigration detention; some actions might be OK, but motives questionable - 10/06/09
Homeland Security Department officials said on Tuesday they would enact far-reaching reforms for how Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains immigrants. The new system will prioritize the removal of criminal aliens and those slated for deportation from the country and seek alternatives to incarceration for others when appropriate, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The reforms were announced in response to the recently-completed review of the detention system by Dora Schriro, the former director of ICE's Office of Detention Policy and Planning. Schriro left the bureau in September to become the New York City commissioner of corrections.
In addition, ICE will review and centralize management of the more than 300 contracts it has negotiated with other public and private facilities to house detainees, said John Morton, assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
...This fall, ICE will submit to Congress a nationwide implementation plan for creating alternatives to detention where appropriate, such as using monitoring devices on aliens who don't pose a threat to others.
...Napolitano and Morton said they were immediately pursuing plans to develop and implement a risk assessment and custody classification system that would help officials determine the appropriate facilities for detainees, with the idea that converted hotels and other residential facilities may be used to house noncriminal, nonviolent detainees.
To a certain extent, reforms like these might be a good thing, and not just because they'd give the American Civil Liberties Union and other illegal immigration-supporting groups one less place to try to hang their hats. However, considering that the Obama administration has as much use for our immigration laws as the Bush administration did, the specifics of each change will have to be closely monitored to make sure they aren't simply trying to enable illegal immigration.
UPDATE: The DHS press release is at dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1254839781410.shtm
Immigration strawman arguments about: civil rights abuses, 287g, family separation, "stateless" children, alternative detention, eVerify - 05/09/09
Rep. Lamar Smith offers "Amnesty Pushers Concoct Six Straw Men" (link), a collection of logical fallacies that illegal immigration supporters use. The points raised aren't of much use unless those supporters - such as nationally-known politicians - are confronted with them, and if you can do that on video that could have a serious impact on those supporters' careers.
But he [the strawman] forgets that children can travel to their parents’ home countries with them. And the federal government may even cover the cost if the family cannot afford it... In most cases, the children will be welcomed abroad as citizens of their parents' home countries -- so they won't be "stateless" as Family Separation Straw Man suggests. In fact, the 10 countries that are estimated to have sent the most illegal immigrants to the U.S. are Brazil, China, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea. In all of these countries except China, the country’s law is clear that children born in the U.S. who have at least one parent who was a citizen of their country (and born in the country) are either automatically citizens of the country or can easily seek citizenship. In China, the law is unclear, but the practice of the Chinese embassy is to allow children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant Chinese parents to return to China as Chinese nationals.
ACLU controlling Obama policy? ("Transition Recommendations" wants most immigration enforcement halted, + much more) - 03/17/09
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union released "Actions For Restoring America: Transition Recommendations for President‐Elect Barack Obama" (aclu.org/transition) listing things they wanted him to do the first day, within the first 100 days, and within the first year. Several of their proposals would halt immigration enforcement to a great extent, pending "review".
Senator Bob Menendez uses alleged ICE abuses to hamper immigration enforcement (SPLC, NYT) - 06/16/08
From the inflammatory side of things, he refers to agents who "stormed" a house; he claims that there are "US citizens who are targeted because of their race, targeted because of their color"; he claims that "their accent, their name, the color of their skin, the place where they lived would have put them at risk" and that "fundamental Constitutional rights still might not apply to them, in today's America"; and that the "authorities harass U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent in other ways". And, much more. It won't be surprising that the New York Times editorial board calls it a "brave" speech (link). From Menendez' summary of the speech:
This afternoon, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) took to the floor of the Senate to deliver a major speech on immigration raids and detentions. He cited the numerous incidences of American citizens and legal permanent residents of Hispanic or other minority descent getting swept up in raids and the fear this has engendered in minority communities. Senator Menendez, who is the Senate sponsor of legislation to ensure basic medical care for detainees, also announced that he will be introducing legislation to prevent the unlawful detention of American citizens and permanent residents.Consider this anecdote from his speech:
"The legitimate desire to get control over our borders has too often turned into a witch-hunt against Hispanic Americans and other people of color," said Senator Menendez. American citizens "are targeted because of their race, targeted because of their color--denied every fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Common sense repeatedly loses out to hysteria, and agents of intolerance repeatedly jump over the legal protections to which every single American is entitled."
Another U.S. citizen named Gladis was at her home one day when eighteen vehicles drove into her front yard, and twenty agents jumped out.What Menendez forgot to state is that that incident occurred during the raid in Stillmore, Georgia. In addition to raiding the chicken processing plant in that town, ICE also arrested illegal aliens in residential areas, and they claim that they visited specific locations in those residential areas based on information they obtained during the main raid. She and others are part of a lawsuit  brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group indirectly linked to the Mexican government. See this for a description of the raid, with an ICE statement at the end. See the attempted class action complaint at . Some abuses may have occurred, or the plaintiffs could be telling tall tales; in any case the situation is mitigated by the facts that Menendez didn't reveal. And, it's worth noting that after the raid the plant was forced to raise wages in order to hire legal workers; whose side is Menendez on?
Agents banged on the door and threatened to throw gas inside the house if they didn't let them in. While the children in the house ran and hid in the bedroom, the agents broke down the door.
One of the agents grabbed Gladis and attempted to handcuff her.
Gladis said she could prove her citizenship, and gave them her social security card. After interrogating Gladis and her family for twenty more minutes, the agents left as fast as they came - they had no warrant, no probable cause, no reason for their actions besides suspicion about someone's name, their accent, and the color of their skin.
Like others, Menendez also brings up the case of Pedro Guzman, a mentally impaired U.S. citizen who was deported to Mexico and only made it back three months later. He also discusses the recent Washington Post series, which is disputed by ICE.
And, he brings up the case of Maria Argueta, who's also currently suing ICE. She makes some generally unbelievable claims (link):
Once inside, the agents asked Argueta about her immigration status, and when Argueta presented her Temporary Protection Status documents, they tossed them aside without looking at them, the suit alleges.Once again, while I'm sure that ICE abuses do occur, I tend to doubt her version of events.
According to the lawsuit, Argueta was taken to a detention center in Elizabeth, where agents mocked her with a popular Latino song "Maria Has Gone," and was later transferred to a Newark facility, where she was held for nearly 36 hours. Argueta was held without food or water for the first 24 hours after her arrest, the lawsuit claims.
...U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and contractors denied timely medical treatment to some of the immigrants, failed to disclose and justify disciplinary actions against them, and improperly limited access to relatives, lawyers and immigration authorities, according to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.However:
Detention officers failed to establish a system to report abuse and violated health and safety rules by neglecting to monitor prisoners on hunger strikes or suicide watches and by serving undercooked food, the report said...
Civil liberties and immigrant advocacy groups are stepping up scrutiny of conditions. Jorge Bustamante, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights of immigrants, has asked to visit U.S. detention centers next month.I think we know what the U.N. is going to say. Our homegrown far-lefties mentioned as complaining are: "Judy Rabinovitz, a lawyer with the ACLU immigrants rights project"; "Eric Lerner, a spokesman for the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee"; and "Bryan Lonegan, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society in New York City".
Critics of the agency called the report disappointing, contending that it watered down recommendations and ignored the most serious allegations of abuse collected since June 2004, which they said included physical beatings, medical neglect, food shortages and mixing of illegal immigrants in administrative custody with criminals.
If all the ACLU and the others did was complain about and try to end such possible abuses, that would be one thing and they might get more widespread support. Unfortunately, as their actions (and the ACLU's indirect link to the Mexican government) consistently show, their agenda is much more broad and seems to be an attempt to weaken our enforcement of immigration laws across the board.
...Saying he is tired of waiting for the federal government to do its job, Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveiled what he called a comprehensive blueprint for border security, which includes the use of the Texas National Guard for training and for deployment in emergencies...
The governor said the National Guard troops would be used only for emergencies and not for routine patrolling of the 1,200-mile long Texas-Mexico border...