Monday, December 24, 2007

A Non-Christmas Story: An Immigrant's Five-and-a-Half Years in Detention

The Village Voice has an in-depth story about a noncitizen's lengthy indefinite detention.  Here is the gist:

"In the spring of 2002, in the fervid months after the 9/11 attacks, [Narinder] Singh flew to India, where his mother had just died. When he returned, an immigration official at JFK suspected that his marriage was a sham to gain permanent-resident status, and he began proceedings to deport Singh. Because Singh had been questioned in an airport—technically crossing a border—immigration law allowed for Singh to be detained indefinitely as his case made its way through the system. As immigration officials lost his paperwork for months, or sent his case to other jurisdictions, Singh was transferred from one facility to the next, waiting for what was always supposed to be a few more months until everything would work out. Without having committed a single crime, Singh ultimately spent five and a half years in what amounts to federal prison—one of the longest detention spells in recent history."

Fortunately, Nartinder Singh has been released -- at least for now.  But read the story and consider whether the immigration proceedings can even arguably be said to be part of some sort of "justice system."


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