US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Reports criticize transfer of detained immigrants

Father Tom Joyce CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Immigration advocates have always been as concerned about the treatment of undocumented immigrants picked up by the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as by the havoc to families immediately after the raids. Last summer there were a number of revelations concerning health care in the detention centers after a death due to neglect.  Now three reports fault ICE for arbitrarily transfering detainees from where they were picked up to places far from family and legal representations. More than half of the detainees are without lawyers, and many have valid claims to remain in the country.

Two of the reports one would expect to be critical – from the nonpartisan Constitution Project and from Human Rights Watch. But their concerns about the lack of legal representation or at least easy access to it were confirmed by a scathing report from DHS’s own inspector general. This outcry last summer led to a promise of the Obama Administration to investigate, and ICE claims to have initiated changes.

Still the charges of the reports are disturbing. An undocumented detainee who has not really committed a crime has fewer rights than a convicted criminal. Often a detainee isn’t even told for weeks why he/she is being held for deportation, much less allowed to pursue legal redress. It’s a practice of ICE to move detainees – in 2008 as many as 53% – from where they were picked up to Louisiana and Texas, where the federal and immigration courts are less sympathetic. The transfer of documents is sloppy, occasionally without photos of the detainee or proper description of their security classification The reports underscore that tougher enforcement does not make us necessarily safer, but may only demean us by violating internationally recognized human rights.

Competition at Lowe's and Home Depot
Each morning, and sometimes long into the day, you can see the casual laborers line up at the entrance of the local Lowe's or Home Depot. For the most part they are Mexican and undocumented. They hire themselves out to small contractors to do day jobs. Now the Arizona Republic reports their ranks are increasingly being joined by U.S.-born workers, usually jobless construction workers.