Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Abuses, Racial Profiling, Harassment, Wrongful Detentions: Border Enforcement American Style

I am not sure that it is news anymore. Nothing really surprises me any more when it comes to border enforcement in the United States.  Still, some recent news accounts and studies of the abuses suffered by people in the name of immigration enforcement led me to remind our readers -- who probably don't need reminding -- of the horrible immigration times in which we live. 

Racial profiling in immigation enforcement (and here and here) has been an issue for many years.  The silence from the general public has been deafening.

Death on the U.S./Mexico border (and here and here) has been an issue for many years as well.  The silence from the general public has been deafening.

And the beat goes on.   Will the silence continue?  Is there anybody out there?

This week, a suit (see the complaint) was filed in Colorado by the family of a man arrested and detained on immigration charges this summer. The lawsuit alleges that the law enforcement operation was unconstitutional and amounted to an unlawful immigration sweep for Latino men.

A new report entitled The Forgotten Constitution: Racial Profiling and Immigration Enforcement in Bedford County, Tennessee paints a horrible picture of a rural Tennessee county.  The Executive Summary states that

"Despite immigrants’ essential economic contributions to Bedford County, they face hostility and discrimination from all aspects of the criminal justice system, which works in close coordination with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Arrests of Latinos have intensified since Tennessee law changed in January 2011 to require jailers to ask arrestees their citizenship and report this information to ICE. Pervasive anti-immigrant sentiment coupled with misinterpretation of the scope of this law has resulted in an ongoing immigration inquisition by local law enforcement that has caused a steep increase in detention and removal by ICE. Suspected immigrants are subjected to racial profiling and increased police surveillance. They are arrested and detained in county jail for minor traffic violations--often unlawfully--in order to facilitate their deportation. Immigrants and refugees are unable to meaningfully access government services and the court system, which means many of them are unable to vindicate their rights. Immigrants are mistreated by ICE officials, who have collaborated with locals engaged in explicitly racially discriminatory practices to entrap, interrogate, and arrest immigrants who clearly do not fit immigration enforcement priorities. Many immigrant victims of crime no longer trust law enforcement to protect them, and families have been torn apart by these arbitrary arrests. Families with children who have lived in the U.S. for their whole lives have had no choice but to uproot and relocate out of the country after the sudden removal of a caretaker or breadwinner. Law enforcement practices and the fear they have stirred in the community have thus resulted in a mass exodus of immigrants from Bedford County. To be an immigrant or refugee in Bedford County is to be treated with suspicion or outright hostility by one’s own government, whose offices still exhibit vestiges of the overt racial apartheid of years past.

This report briefly outlines the abuse and discrimination immigrants in Bedford County face in each stage of the criminal justice system. . . ."  (bold added).

Tomorrow, the human rights organization No More Deaths will release a report alleging widespread abuse of detainees in U.S. Border Patrol custody.  The report documents more than 30,000 incidents of abuse and mistreatment and specific recommendations to ensure an end to the abuse. Nearly 13,000 migrants were interviewed for the report. Many described incidents of physical mistreatment, unsafe and unsanitary detention conditions, and the denial of medical attention for those in custody, among other forms of abuse. A Culture of Cruelty is a follow-up to No More Deaths’ 2008 report “Crossing the Line: Human Rights Abuses of Migrants in Short-Term Custody on the Arizona/Sonora Border.”  Copies of the new report and video interviews offering first hand accounts of abuse will all be made available online tomorrow.

Is this the new normal of immigration enforcement?  Is there anybody out there?



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