New video unmasks the “Hidden System” of federal deportations and detentions

LatinaLista — This past Sunday, over 1,000 people marched the streets of Postville, Iowa to protest the nation’s largest immigration raid. The protesters, men, women and children, joined together in crying out against the working conditions at the Agriprocessors plant, as well as, the detention/deportation of over 300 workers.
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One Postville marcher declares his disapproval against the way immigration is enforced by the federal government.
(Source: The Iowa Independent: Lynda Waddington)

Yet, had it not been for the conscience-stricken federal interpreter who came forward to reveal how the federal government railroaded these undocumented workers into deportation, the height of the injustice of the system would not have been brought to light.
Nor would it have stirred the interests of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who visited with Postville immigrant families this past Saturday and will be holding a press conference tomorrow in Washington, D.C. to unveil the results of their fact-finding mission, and to voice a special request of Congress on behalf of the families left behind from the raid who are struggling on a daily basis to live.
The secretive and isolationist nature of how the federal government conducts deportations and immigrant detentions naturally lends itself to abuse of the system and the erosion of human rights. By failing to make the process transparent — from blocking out the windows on the buses transporting apprehended immigrants and denying due process of law, to depriving families of personal contact with detainees — the government is creating a hidden system.
It is precisely that concept of “A Hidden System” that is the title of a new video by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). Documenting the practices and impact of this federal policy that is part of an overall broken immigration system, the video achieves in spotlighting a department of the government that critics of illegal immigration hail as working perfectly.
However, as the video shows, the impact of these enforcement practices creates an undue emotional and physical hardship on families and children that must be seen to be believed:

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28 Comments

  1. Frank said:

    It isn’t our immigration laws that are broken but the enforcement of them.
    Our borders weren’t secured after the 1986 amnesty as promised and employers were not held accountable for hiring illegal workers.
    Well the chicken has now come to roost, so to speak. Illegal immigration has reached critical mass. The raids are necessary to punish both the employers and the workers for violating federal immigration law.
    Why would any law abiding American not want our country to enforce it’s laws even though they have been lax at it in the past? Laws are in place to protect our country and it’s citizens. Our government has failed the people. Enough is enough!

  2. Horace said:

    You might have an argument but for the fact that they were all guilty of illegal entry. Any delay would have just put off their inevitable deportation, the efforts of supporters of illegal immigration nothwithstanding.
    The usual melodrama from this blogger is found in her drivel, “By failing to make the process transparent — from blocking out the windows on the buses transporting apprehended immigrants and denying due process of law, to depriving families of personal contact with detainees — the government is creating a hidden system”. It is not an argument against justice as embodied in our laws, but just so much gratuitous sop to inflame the reader. For example, what does blocking out windows have to do with transparency of process? Whether the windows are tinted or clear is irrelevent. Rather then stick with key points, you tend to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the rant, regardless of whether or not it’s a stretch.
    The protesters care nothing for the merit in law, but only self-interest, be it aiding and abetting family, crooked farmers, or socialist immigration lawyer whose only goal is to thwart our immigration policies, or bloggers like yourself who care little for this country, but only for your tribal instincts and your ability to attract whackos like Evelyn. Your logic is simplistic, their Hispanics, therefore my type of people, and no immigration laws could ever apply to them, regardles of whether they hurt others via identity theft or fraud. By your way of thinking, all our immigration laws were designed to keep them out, so are laws are unjust. Let’s face it, no matter how much due process they were given it would not be enough for you. This is just more Hispanic activist lies, hyperbole and propaganda that we’ve heard before and will hear again, ad nauseum.

  3. Evelyn said:

    The protesters care nothing for the merit in law, but only self-interest, be it aiding and abetting family, crooked farmers, or socialist immigration lawyer whose only goal is to thwart our immigration policies, or bloggers like yourself who care little for this country, but only for your tribal instincts and your ability to attract whackos like Evelyn. Your logic is simplistic, their Hispanics, therefore my type of people, and no immigration laws could ever apply to them, regardles of whether they hurt others via identity theft or fraud. By your way of thinking, all our immigration laws were designed to keep them out, so are laws are unjust. Let’s face it, no matter how much due process they were given it would not be enough for you. This is just more Hispanic activist lies, hyperbole and propaganda that we’ve heard before and will hear again, ad nauseum.
    Posted by Horace
    E
    When whackos like Horace defend their racist attacks of immigrants while forgetting they are the children of immigrants. The word HYPOCRITE comes to mind.
    Horace said
    “your tribal instincts and your ability to attract whackos like Evelyn. Your logic is simplistic, their Hispanics, therefore my type of people”
    E
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your theory doesent fly.
    The majority of people advocating and defending human rights for all are not Hispanic and neither am I.
    ~~~~
    E
    The good news is your relatives were immigrants! How else would you have gotten here? For your benefit Sir, enjoy!
    Hardliners Try to White-Wash Their Own Immigrant Pasts by Redefining ‘Immigration’
    By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted June 2, 2008.
    Redefining the word “immigrant” is an attempt to differentiate between those they hate and their own grandparents.
    I’ve encountered a new argument in my travels, both in the comments here on AlterNet and around the internet. It’s perhaps best captured by the motto of the “Illegal Invasion News” blog: “IT’S NOT ‘IMMIGRATION’ AND THEY’RE NOT ‘IMMIGRANTS.’” (This claim is often articulated in that ALL CAPS style so popular with small children and lunatics who are off their meds.)
    The word “immigrant” has nothing at all to do with legal status. It means, simply, to move from one place to another for the purpose of settling down. Papers, no papers — it’s all irrelevant to the act of migrating.
    The claim can be dispatched easily enough with a little elementary etymology. The word “migration” first appears in the English language in reference to humans in 1611, some 37 years before the modern nation state, with its discrete borders, came into existence. The Latin root of the verb “to immigrate,” immigrare, predates that by more than a thousand years. Human migration is a phenomenon that dates back to before homo sapiens even existed — pre-modern humans migrated wily-nilly. So, clearly, the word “immigrant” has nothing whatsoever to do with one’s paperwork being in order; its roots predate the existence of contemporary legal systems.
    An interesting question is why they bother making the argument at all? Surely, it’s not relevant to the larger issue.
    Or so it seems. But it is relevant, in that it is a response to a major problem for real immigration hardliners: the United States is, indisputably, a nation of immigrants and our heterogeneity, contra the howls of many a right-winger, is a big part of what makes America what it is. You can gorge on Bratwursts in Michigan, drink way too much vodka and mingle with decked-out Russian gliteratti in Brighton Beach, still read local Deutsche Zeitungen in small towns in Minnesota, eat Ethiopian food with your hands in L.A., sing weepy Irish ballads over your Guinness in dozens of Boston bars, wander the docks as the Vietnamese fishermen come in for a Texas evening and get the best roast pork in Little Havana. And thank god for all of that — I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    But consider how awkward that simple reality is for a nice Irish boy like Bill O’Reilly, or someone like Tom Tancredo, whose grandparents — all four of them — immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the first decades of the 20th century. There are a lot of immigration restrictionists of European descent — people with names like O’Malley, Kowolski or Schmitt — who are incensed about the current generation of immigrants to America, and to avoid charges of hypocrisy — or simple cognitive dissonance — they have an almost obsessive need to distinguish between their forebearers — “good immigrants” every one — and these scoundrels coming here today.
    Usually, they’re content to hang onto the fact that their great-grandparents immigrated legally, but I guess some need to go a step further and deny that those who bypass the system are immigrants at all.
    Even the former distinction is weak. Consider the similarities between, say, the wave of European immigration that arrived in the 1880s and 1890s and those who have come over the past decade, and they dwarf the differences. Descendants of the huge waves of European immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries make much of the fact that their great grandparents came here “legally,” but they rest their case on a technicality: the only reason they were legal was that there was no law in effect restricting European immigration until the 1920s. In fact, European immigrants didn’t even need to identify themselves to get in — the derogatory word for Italians, “WOP,” was an acronym stamped on entry documents that meant the person was arriving “With Out Papers.”
    It’s true those earlier immigrants hadn’t violated any law, but they never asked American citizens for permission to come and, while they contributed much to the growth of the American economy they, like their modern counterparts today, were not embraced with open arms by all of American society. In the mid-19th century, gangs would pepper arriving German immigrants with stones; walk into any Irish bar in New York City and you’ll find the ubiquitous sign reading, “Irish Need Not Apply.” Now those signs are a kitschy testament to Irish integration into American society, but back then they were anything but.
    When one listens to the arguments put forth by people like Lou Dobbs today, they’re virtually indistinguishable from what was said of those earlier European immigrants: they’re invading in huge numbers; they won’t assimilate like earlier immigrants have; they won’t learn the language like earlier immigrants did; they vote in mindless blocs; they’re unclean; their religions are backwards, and etc. Consider Benjamin Franklin’s concerns expressed in a letter written in 1753:
    Measures of great Temper are necessary with the Germans … Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation … I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties; Few of their children in the Country learn English; they import many Books from Germany; and of the six printing houses in the Province, two are entirely German, two half German half English, and but two entirely English; They have one German News-paper, and one half German. Advertisements intended to be general are now printed in Dutch and English; the Signs in our Streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only German … In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies … they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.
    That hearty German stock that had Ben Franklin so concerned would produce such esteemed Americans as Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the infamous “Sensenbrenner Bill” that would have made it a felony to even offer humanitarian aid to an undocumented immigrant, among other provisions. Sensenbrenner is just as concerned with the large numbers of Latin Americans coming in to the country today, and his rhetoric is very similar to old Ben Franklin’s. One of the key differences is that in Franklin’s era — and through the middle of the 20th century — immigration restrictionists spoke of the innate inferiority of other human “races”; in modern times, that’s impolitic, so Sensenbrenner and his contemporaries make a big show of distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” immigration.
    In every generation, the gloom and doom predictions about how those newer immigrants would ultimately lead to the nation’s destruction have proven overwrought and inaccurate. By the third generation, the Irish, Poles, Italians and all the rest of Europe’s immigrants had all become Americans. And so it will be with today’s new immigrants. According to a recent study cited in The Washington Post, immigrants today are no different; in fact, the study noted that “immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations.”
    The similarities don’t end with the consistent hostility some Americans have for newer arrivals. Individuals have all sorts of reasons for emigrating, but throughout our history, when large numbers migrate from a single country or region, it’s always been in response to some kind of shock in their country of origin, be it civil strife or pestilence or drought or war or economic collapse or natural disaster. Today we have a large number of immigrants from Mexico — slightly more than half of all new migrants — which followed the peso crisis, which was aggravated by job displacement resulting from NAFTA’s liberalization of agriculture. Again, this is consistent, whether we’re talking about the Irish fleeing the Great Potato Famine, Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms or Vietnamese boat people fleeing war in South-East Asia. The Wikipedia entry for Swedish emigration to America explains that their numbers peaked just after the Civil War:
    There was widespread resentment against the religious repression practiced by the Swedish Lutheran State Church and the social conservatism and class snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. Population growth and crop failures made conditions in the Swedish countryside increasingly bleak.
    Aside from the obvious demographic differences between today’s immigrants and those of earlier eras, there was another difference. Relative to the native population, the wave of elevated immigration hitting our shores today is nothing compared to previous ones. During the 1980s and 1990s, about 16.4 million immigrants came to America — a number equaling 7.1 percent of the 1981 population; during the period between 1901and 1920, about 14.5 million new arrivals came to America, but that number represented 18.9 percent of the population in 1901.
    Those who like to throw around rhetoric about some huge “invasion” would do well to read some history — what we’re seeing now is a drop in the bucket compared to earlier periods of American history.

  4. Evelyn said:

    It isn’t our immigration laws that are broken but the enforcement of them.
    Our borders weren’t secured after the 1986 amnesty as promised and employers were not held accountable for hiring illegal workers.
    Well the chicken has now come to roost, so to speak. Illegal immigration has reached critical mass. The raids are necessary to punish both the employers and the workers for violating federal immigration law.
    Why would any law abiding American not want our country to enforce it’s laws even though they have been lax at it in the past? Laws are in place to protect our country and it’s citizens. Our government has failed the people. Enough is enough!
    Posted by Frank
    E
    Hiding behind the “rule of law” to further your racist agenda is dispicable because of the fact that you ignore “rule of law” when it benefits the immigrant. In fact you will advocate against “rule of law” when it benefits an immigrant or Hispanic. That is Hypocrisy. Enough is Enough!!! Have you no shame?
    U.S. Immigration Policy and The “Rule of Law”
    by Donald Kerwin
    Politicians, pundits and activists have touted “the rule of law” as the solution to our nation’s broken immigration system, mistakenly conflating this term with “law and order.” In fact, the “rule of law” offers a positive framework for reform, but only in the full meaning of this concept. At its most basic, the “rule of law” speaks to the need for government to be accountable to the law. “Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own,” Plato wrote, “the collapse of the state . . . is not far off; but if the law is master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise.”
    The “rule of law” requires a certain level of “law and order,” but enforcement of the law does not guarantee a legal system that satisfies this concept. After all, despots excel at ruling by law. As Brian Tamanaha has written, a consensus has emerged in liberal democracies that the “rule of law” speaks to the form that laws take, their purpose (service to human rights and the common good), and the legitimacy of the underlying political system. How might this standard guide reform of the U.S. immigration system?
    Measuring the U.S. Immigration System
    The indices used by non-governmental organizations to measure compliance with the “rule of law” in other nations typically stipulate that laws must be written, prospective, coherent, procedurally fair, and applied even-handedly. Persons with even the most passing experience with the U.S. immigration system know that it does not satisfy these mostly “formal” standards. Repeated studies have demonstrated, for example, gross disparities in deportation outcomes based on legal representation, detention, and the assigned judge. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that one-sixth of the migrants at U.S. ports-of-entry who express a fear of returning home are nonetheless turned away in violation of U.S. and international law.
    The American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration has argued that the spiraling population of persons without legal status in the United States — whom it characterized as “second-class non-citizens . . . without rights, status, security or stability” — in itself raised rule of law concerns. The Commission reported that persons without status “live largely outside the law’s protections,” facing “crime, exploitation and abuse.” State and local legislation that attempts to force the undocumented to self-deport by denying them housing, work, and minimal government services puts them further outside the law’s protections.
    The ABA Commission also concluded that U.S. immigration laws “contribute significantly” to “illegality” because they conflict with the right to family unity. The conflict occurs in three areas. First, unforgiving U.S. deportation laws have led to the permanent banishment of thousands of lawful permanent residents, many for relatively minor crimes that they committed years in the past. Second, U.S. law conditions family unity on income by requiring U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who wish to sponsor a qualifying relative for a visa to demonstrate the “means to maintain” that person at 125 percent of the poverty guidelines. Third, multi-year backlogs force immigrants who have been approved for family-based visas to decide whether to obey the law and live abroad while they await their visas, or to live with their families in the United States without status. Literally millions opt for the latter course. These and other measures have been exacerbated by growing restrictions on judicial review, a linchpin of the “rule of law.”
    The “rule of law” also argues for coherence between the operation of different legal regimes. Yet there is dissonance between U.S. immigration policy and the nation’s relatively open job market that depends on more than 7 million workers without legal status. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke, the U.S. economy will need 3.5 million additional laborers annually into the foreseeable future to replace the 78 million baby-boomers who begin to retire in 2008. Besides immigrants, the only other source of “replacement” workers will be elderly persons who chose to work beyond their projected retirement dates.
    The Administration and Congress have stepped up pressure on states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws. Many police forces have resisted at risk to needed federal funding, fearing that this new responsibility will distract them from their core law-enforcement duties and will prevent immigrants from reporting crimes and cooperating in community policing. This result offends the rule of law even in the narrow, “law and order” sense of this term.
    More than three million U.S. citizen children have at least one parent without legal status. Denying them citizenship will effectively make many of these children stateless. The 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction. Yet 96 Members of Congress co-sponsored legislation last year that sought to deny birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented persons without amending the Constitution. The creation of a “permanently illegal” class of children through arguably illegal means represents an egregious challenge to the rule of law.
    Honoring the “Rule of Law”
    The “rule of law” has been evoked to oppose policies that would increase “legality” and to support policies that would increase “illegality.” Many restrictionists favor reducing legal admissions, denying citizenship to U.S.-born children, criminalizing being or assisting an undocumented person, and denying certain immigrants the means to subsist. Last year, they cited the “rule of law” to justify their opposition to the “DREAM Act,” which would have legalized undocumented persons raised in the United States, and to oppose “amnesty” for the spouses of fallen U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
    Pro-immigrant groups do not favor illegal immigration or support open borders. My own agency has documented the chaos and security risks that characterize the current immigration system. At the same time, we do not think that enforcement can be effective without broader reform of the U.S. immigration system. While Border Patrol funding increased from $206 million in 1988 to $1.8 billion in 2006, the U.S. undocumented population grew roughly five-fold. Deportation-only or prosecution-then-deportation, or deportation-by-attrition strategies will be prohibitively expensive and a civil rights debacle.
    A purely “law and order” approach also fails to address why people migrate, an essential consideration in crafting a successful immigration policy. Most come to work as part of a family survival strategy. Better to die trying to cross, migrants say, than to die slowly at home. Millions have been displaced by the process of globalization. In the 12 years following passage of the North American Free Trade agreement, two million persons lost their jobs in Mexico’s agricultural sector. During these same years, many small family farmers joined the U.S. “illegal” migrant labor force.
    U.S. immigration laws remain generous in many ways. They deserve to be obeyed and enforced. Yet the law cannot ultimately prevail against human desperation and need. The “rule of law” holds the promise of creating a more humane immigration system that could be better enforced. Honoring this venerable concept would serve our nation’s interests and ideals.

  5. Evelyn said:

    Out of Unenforceable Laws, Amnesties Are Born
    By Shankar Vedantam
    Monday, June 4, 2007; Page A03
    The ambitious immigration overhaul package that Congress is studying has drawn criticism from conservatives who say it offers amnesty to lawbreakers, and from immigration advocates who say it will not do enough to bring millions of people out of the shadows.
    But to Douglas Husak and Lawrence Solum, the elephant in the room is that the existing immigration law that underlies the debate has no connection with reality.
    Husak and Solum, legal theorists and philosophers, argue that laws on immigration are part of a broad pattern. In recent decades, they say, Congress has passed innumerable laws that no one seriously expects will be enforced. Such laws largely seem to serve symbolic purposes and are often designed to placate some powerful constituency — conservatives in the case of immigration, or the entertainment industry in the case of laws that seek to deter people from swapping copyrighted music and movies.
    The yawning divide between reality and what such laws say should happen is what produces the dilemmas that lead to amnesties. Immigration law has produced a situation where an estimated 12 million people in the country — most of whom look, sound and act like law-abiding citizens — are supposed to be apprehended, prosecuted and deported, a job that is not only well beyond the capacity of the police and courts, but would wreck substantial parts of the economy were it attempted.
    “No one is so stupid as to think police are going to go out and round up 12 million illegal immigrants,” said Husak, at Rutgers University. “Ninety million living Americans have used illegal drugs. It is inconceivable you can punish them. Downloading copyrighted music [without paying for it] — half or more of all teenagers are guilty. No one is going to enforce such laws.”
    The consequence of symbolic lawmaking is over-criminalization, which turns out to be as difficult a problem to deal with in the long run as crime itself. It might sound good for a politician to sternly declare that draft dodgers are in violation of the law and at risk for prosecution, but how do you deal with thousands of Americans who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War — after the country had concluded the war was lost and a ghastly mistake? You offer them amnesty, of course.
    Federal laws that make it a crime to include false information on a mortgage or car-loan application have turned tens of thousands of people into potential felons — because they say that their parents gave them money for a down payment, rather than lent it to them, Solum says. Saying the money is a gift makes the borrower seem like a better risk.
    “People commit perjury all the time,” added Solum, at the University of Illinois College of Law. “People in civil cases shade the truth in depositions and on the stand all the time — and we know that because there are radically inconsistent stories being told all the time — but we almost never prosecute perjury that arises in a civil lawsuit. It probably happens hundreds of times a day.”
    When laws are passed that cannot or will not be enforced, people quickly come to understand that the law does not mean what it says. This is why, if you actually happen to drive at the 55 mph speed limit on the Capital Beltway, you seriously run the risk of getting rear-ended by the flood of vehicles that are whizzing by 5, 10 or even 20 miles per hour faster.
    There is a law about speeding, but it is not the law that is on the books. Exceed a certain speed — it might be 60 or 65 or 70 mph — and you are going to get a ticket. What Solum and Husak are arguing is that, if the cops are going to give you a ticket when you cross 65 but not when you cross 55, set the speed limit at 65. Get the law to mean what it says.
    “When we set up laws that are intended to express symbolic disapproval, but that we are not willing to enforce, we send a message that we are not expecting people to obey the law,” Solum said. “The immigration laws are a perfect example of that.”
    The problem is not just that when people start interpreting the law on their own, they come up with wildly different interpretations– some people drive 5 mph over the speed limit, others think the magic cushion is 15 mph. The bigger problem with setting the bar too low, so that large numbers of people become lawbreakers, say Solum and Husak, is that it greatly enhances the discretionary powers of police, prosecutors and the executive branch.
    The vast majority of people punished for speeding, drug violations or downloading music, or for perjury, prostitution or illegal immigration, are not targeted merely because they are breaking the law — only a tiny fraction of those who break such laws, after all, ever get punished. Most people who get in trouble are the ones who police and prosecutors decide, for whatever reason, should be punished, Husak says. Enacting impractical laws that have largely rhetorical value, in other words, leads to selective enforcement — with all the attendant risks of unfairness and bias.
    “The myth is that legislators are the most important people in the criminal justice system,” Husak said. “But when legislators draft laws that are very broad, they abdicate their roles and give prosecutors the power to decide who will get punished and who should not.”
    Regardless of your political affiliations or your views on immigration, speeding, perjury or downloading music, Solum and Husak say, that’s no way to run a country.

  6. Texano78704 said:

    “The protesters care nothing for the merit in law, but only self-interest…”
    I think someone a long time ago had plenty to say about the legalists of his day. He starts way before this quote and continues on considerably in the same vein, but I’m sure you will get the gist.
    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint and anise and cummin and have left the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and faith. These things you ought to have done and not to leave those undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness. Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.
    (Mat 23:23-26 DRB)

  7. Evelyn said:

    RACISM DOESENT PAY!
    Right-Wing Pathologies Revealed After Adkisson Shooting at Unitarian Church
    By John Dolan, AlterNet. Posted July 29, 2008.
    When Free Republic forum posters learned that the gunman was from their own demographic, out came the conservative madness.
    A classic drama full of hatred, ignorance and irony played out this week in the forum section of right-wing Web site Free Republic, as “Freepers” tried to make sense of a church shooting in Tennessee that killed two parishioners and wounded many others. The grotesque irony of the FR discussions is that, after early posters had indulged all their bigoted guesses about the identity of the killer, they found out the gunman was actually straight out of their own demographic: a 59-year-old white man named Jim Adkisson, who left a four-page letter ranting against liberals, was known by his acquaintances to hate “blacks, gays and anyone who was different from him,” left a pile of books by O’Reilly, Savage and Hannity behind in his car, and even wore a red-white-and-blue shirt to his church killing spree.
    It’s morbidly fascinating to watch the FR threads as the posters wriggle and bluster to try to accommodate this most inconvenient truth. And if you have the stomach to read them, you can learn a lot (perhaps more than you’d like) about the pathology of the contemporary American Right. For myself — and I realize this will be the most profound heresy to progressives committed to the populist line — reading these posts is a timely slap in the face, a painful reminder that maybe, just maybe, heartland Americans aren’t such wonderful people at all. What you see in these posts is the oldest, deepest and meanest strain in American culture: the Ulster America founded by violent sectarians who moved westward again and again, from Scotland to Northern Ireland and then to the southern United States, then again westward into the American continent, to find a place where they could hone their hair-trigger intolerance without fear of interference from warmer, more humorous people. But that’s me, and I’m often accused of “cynicism,” whatever that means. At any rate, I’ll present a little background on the site and then discuss a few of the posts. Make of them what you will.
    For those who want to do their own analyses before reading on, here are the Web addresses of the three FR threads discussing the Tennessee shootings, in the order they appeared:
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/search?;s=tennessee%20church
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2052204/posts
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2052590/posts
    For those unfamiliar with online right-wing culture, Free Republic is a far-right Web site established in 1996. It soon found a huge, loyal audience among the right wing’s most rabid, ignorant and openly fascistic voices — or as FR calls them, “grassroots conservatives.” Even other right-wing Web sites shun FR, and you’ll often observe posters to these sites worrying, when online discussions become openly racist or fascistic, that they’re becoming too much like “the Freepers,” as FR’s ranting posters proudly call themselves.
    The same hatred of “liberals” that drove the Tennessee killer is on display, with unconscious irony, in the house advertisement appearing at the top of one of the forums on the church shooting. A bald eagle stands before an American flag, with the caption, “Driving liberals crazy and having fun doing it!”
    The first posts reacting to the church shooting are smug gloats. Many posters were absolutely certain that the gunman would turn out to be a Muslim:
    read full story here
    http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/93198/right-wing_pathologies_revealed_after_adkisson_shooting_at_unitarian_church/

  8. Frank said:

    “When whackos like Horace defend their racist attacks of immigrants while forgetting they are the children of immigrants. The word HYPOCRITE comes to mind.”
    Objecting to illegal immigration into our country has nothing to do with racism, but our laws. It isn’t about “immigrants” either. Two entirely different catagories. No, we aren’t children of immigrants. Most American’s families have been here for decades now.
    “I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your theory doesent fly.
    The majority of people advocating and defending human rights for all are not Hispanic and neither am I.”
    This isn’t about human rights, but our laws. Even illegal aliens are granted basic human rights already so there is nothing to defend! BS! The majority of illegal alien supporters ARE Hispanic!
    “The good news is your relatives were immigrants! How else would you have gotten here? For your benefit Sir, enjoy!”
    Most of our ancestors came here legally and that is the difference between coming here in violation of our immigration laws!
    “Hardliners Try to White-Wash Their Own Immigrant Pasts by Redefining ‘Immigration’”
    No, our government and laws have defined what is legal immigration and illegal immigration. They aren’t the same!
    “Redefining the word “immigrant” is an attempt to differentiate between those they hate and their own grandparents.”
    See above and take it up with our government then. It isn’t up to you decide what our legal terms should be. I don’t hate anyone who has come here legally. My grandparents came here legally also.
    “Hiding behind the “rule of law” to further your racist agenda is dispicable because of the fact that you ignore “rule of law” when it benefits the immigrant. In fact you will advocate against “rule of law” when it benefits an immigrant or Hispanic. That is Hypocrisy. Enough is Enough!!! Have you no shame”?
    Is our government also hiding behind the rule of law when according to you it is based on racism? How about Mexico and every other country in the world? Are they hiding behind their immigration laws to hide their racism? Do you know how ridiculous you sound? As I have stated before the U.S. takes in more legal immigrants than any other country in the world and you call this country and it’s citizens, racists? LOL! Latinos get the second highest quota for legal immigrants into our country, only a few percentage points below Asians, yet you try to claim that THEY are being discriminated against? Still want to talk about racism and look like the lying, hateful fool that you are? Have YOU no shame?

  9. Evelyn said:

    Is our government also hiding behind the rule of law when according to you it is based on racism?
    Posted by Frank
    E
    YES, but in their case it is not based on racism but BIG BIG $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!
    As you can see below.
    Thank You Time&Again for this very insiteful article.
    Why Texas Still Holds ‘Em
    NEWS: Forget oil and gold. In the Lone Star state, the boomtown business is locking up immigrants.
    By Stephanie Mencimer
    July/August 2008 Issue
    In 1997, with the private prison business booming, the Corrections Corporation of America picked a 64-acre plot near Austin, Texas, for its newest lockup. A medium-security prison, it was named after the company’s cofounder and designed for some 500 federal inmates. But the anticipated stream of prisoners never arrived: By the time the T. Don Hutto Correctional Center opened, a glut of private prison beds, along with cca’s own poor track record, had left the company nearly bankrupt. Its stock, which once traded at around $45 a share, bottomed out at 18 cents. Several of its facilities were shuttered or sat empty for years, including the Hutto prison, which cca moved to close in 2004.
    But Hutto, like cca itself, has risen from the ashes thanks to a sudden source of new business: the Bush administration’s crackdown on immigrants. Historically, Mexicans caught illegally entering the country have been dumped back across the border, while immigrants and asylum seekers from other countries were processed and released to await their court dates. (Only those with criminal records were detained.) Most of those released, though, failed to appear for court hearings and removal proceedings, and the government didn’t have the resources to go looking for them. So in 2006, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ice) agency ended its traditional “catch and release” policy and instead started incarcerating non-Mexican immigrants—anyone from a Salvadoran migrant to an Iraqi family seeking political asylum—pending their deportation or asylum hearings. Over the two years since, the agency has increased its use of detention facilities by more than half; it now holds some 30,000 people on any given day.
    In this new population—and in ice’s $1 billion-plus detention budget—cca saw opportunity. In 2004, when Congress passed legislation authorizing ice to triple the number of immigrant detention beds, cca’s lobbying expenditures reached $3 million; since then, it has spent an additional $7 million on lobbyists. Among them was Philip Perry, Vice President Dick Cheney’s son-in-law, who later became general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, ice’s parent organization, which has awarded cca millions in contracts; one of them, in 2006, allowed the company to reopen the old Hutto prison, now christened a “residential facility” housing immigrant families, including small children.
    cca isn’t the only firm lining up for ice contracts: There’s so much money to be made warehousing immigrants that in 2006, Cornell Companies, a private prison firm, sent the state of Oklahoma an eviction notice for more than 800 state inmates housed in its facility in Hinton. The company was negotiating with ice to take in immigrants for more than the roughly $45 per diem that Oklahoma paid.
    State and local governments are also getting in on the action. In 2006, Willacy County, Texas, floated millions in bonds and, in 90 days, built a tent city for immigrants that it leases to ice for $78 a day per detainee. (A room at the local Best Western Executive Inn costs $65.) Run by the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation, a private prison management company, the camp houses up to 2,000 immigrants in a razor-wire-ringed compound holding 10 Kevlar tents of the sort used by troops in Iraq. Detainees have reported problems with heat and air conditioning, as well as maggot-infested food. The county has since approved another $50 million to add space for 1,000 more detainees.
    Elsewhere, detention centers have been sued for providing inadequate health care, food services, and education. The aclu of Texas recently settled a lawsuit with ice over the conditions at Hutto for 26 children ages 1 to 17. According to the aclu, they were kept in cells 11 or 12 hours a day, forced to wear prison garb, fed “unrecognizable substances, mostly starches,” and denied toys, bathroom privacy, and access to medical care.
    According to the Washington Post, more than 80 people have died in ice detention, in many cases because of poor health care. The most famous case is that of Francisco Castaneda, a Salvadoran detained in San Diego for eight months. The government denied his request for a penile biopsy while in detention, arguing that it was an “elective outpatient procedure.” He was eventually found to have cancer. His penis was amputated, but the malignancy spread, and he died last year.
    On average, ice pays $95 a day per immigrant that it detains, yet research indicates that other, far cheaper, methods can work almost as well in making sure immigrants show up in court. Back in the late 1990s, the agency asked the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice to run a pilot project under which people facing deportation got intensive supervision and connections to social service agencies. More than 90 percent appeared for their hearings—partly, the institute said, thanks to better information about the process. Intensive supervision costs an average of $14 per detainee per day, according to congressional testimony by Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security. Yet in fiscal 2007, ice spent only about $44 million on alternative programs, compared with roughly $1.2 billion on detention—and legislation sponsored last year by representatives Heath Schuler (D-N.C.) and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) in the House would authorize the agency to develop another 8,000 detention beds, which must be provided by private contractors such as cca “whenever possible.”
    cca, meanwhile, is contributing to the detention boom in its own small way: Last year, after inspecting the Hutto center’s personnel records, ice officials arrested 10 workers—illegal immigrants themselves.

  10. Evelyn said:

    Frank:said
    Objecting to illegal immigration into our country has nothing to do with racism, but our laws. It isn’t about “immigrants” either. Two entirely different catagories. No, we aren’t children of immigrants. Most American’s families have been here for decades now.
    “I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your theory doesent fly.
    The majority of people advocating and defending human rights for all are not Hispanic and neither am I.”
    This isn’t about human rights, but our laws. Even illegal aliens are granted basic human rights already so there is nothing to defend! BS! The majority of illegal alien supporters ARE Hispanic!
    “The good news is your relatives were immigrants! How else would you have gotten here? For your benefit Sir, enjoy!”
    Most of our ancestors came here legally and that is the difference between coming here in violation of our immigration laws!
    “Hardliners Try to White-Wash Their Own Immigrant Pasts by Redefining ‘Immigration’”
    No, our government and laws have defined what is legal immigration and illegal immigration. They aren’t the same!
    “Redefining the word “immigrant” is an attempt to differentiate between those they hate and their own grandparents.”
    See above and take it up with our government then. It isn’t up to you decide what our legal terms should be. I don’t hate anyone who has come here legally. My grandparents came here legally also.
    “Hiding behind the “rule of law” to further your racist agenda is dispicable because of the fact that you ignore “rule of law” when it benefits the immigrant. In fact you will advocate against “rule of law” when it benefits an immigrant or Hispanic. That is Hypocrisy. Enough is Enough!!! Have you no shame”?
    Is our government also hiding behind the rule of law when according to you it is based on racism? How about Mexico and every other country in the world? Are they hiding behind their immigration laws to hide their racism? Do you know how ridiculous you sound? As I have stated before the U.S. takes in more legal immigrants than any other country in the world and you call this country and it’s citizens, racists? LOL! Latinos get the second highest quota for legal immigrants into our country, only a few percentage points below Asians, yet you try to claim that THEY are being discriminated against? Still want to talk about racism and look like the lying, hateful fool that you are? Have YOU no shame?
    ~~~~~
    E
    Gee, you didnt have to go to all this trouble basically re-posting all the BS you usually do to get brought back to reality.
    A few words asking nicely with please at the end would have done the job.
    Here is the answer to all the BS you posted above. ENJOY!
    Hardliners Try to White-Wash Their Own Immigrant Pasts by Redefining ‘Immigration’
    By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted June 2, 2008.
    Redefining the word “immigrant” is an attempt to differentiate between those they hate and their own grandparents.
    I’ve encountered a new argument in my travels, both in the comments here on AlterNet and around the internet. It’s perhaps best captured by the motto of the “Illegal Invasion News” blog: “IT’S NOT ‘IMMIGRATION’ AND THEY’RE NOT ‘IMMIGRANTS.’” (This claim is often articulated in that ALL CAPS style so popular with small children and lunatics who are off their meds.)
    The word “immigrant” has nothing at all to do with legal status. It means, simply, to move from one place to another for the purpose of settling down. Papers, no papers — it’s all irrelevant to the act of migrating.
    The claim can be dispatched easily enough with a little elementary etymology. The word “migration” first appears in the English language in reference to humans in 1611, some 37 years before the modern nation state, with its discrete borders, came into existence. The Latin root of the verb “to immigrate,” immigrare, predates that by more than a thousand years. Human migration is a phenomenon that dates back to before homo sapiens even existed — pre-modern humans migrated wily-nilly. So, clearly, the word “immigrant” has nothing whatsoever to do with one’s paperwork being in order; its roots predate the existence of contemporary legal systems.
    An interesting question is why they bother making the argument at all? Surely, it’s not relevant to the larger issue.
    Or so it seems. But it is relevant, in that it is a response to a major problem for real immigration hardliners: the United States is, indisputably, a nation of immigrants and our heterogeneity, contra the howls of many a right-winger, is a big part of what makes America what it is. You can gorge on Bratwursts in Michigan, drink way too much vodka and mingle with decked-out Russian gliteratti in Brighton Beach, still read local Deutsche Zeitungen in small towns in Minnesota, eat Ethiopian food with your hands in L.A., sing weepy Irish ballads over your Guinness in dozens of Boston bars, wander the docks as the Vietnamese fishermen come in for a Texas evening and get the best roast pork in Little Havana. And thank god for all of that — I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    But consider how awkward that simple reality is for a nice Irish boy like Bill O’Reilly, or someone like Tom Tancredo, whose grandparents — all four of them — immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the first decades of the 20th century. There are a lot of immigration restrictionists of European descent — people with names like O’Malley, Kowolski or Schmitt — who are incensed about the current generation of immigrants to America, and to avoid charges of hypocrisy — or simple cognitive dissonance — they have an almost obsessive need to distinguish between their forebearers — “good immigrants” every one — and these scoundrels coming here today.
    Usually, they’re content to hang onto the fact that their great-grandparents immigrated legally, but I guess some need to go a step further and deny that those who bypass the system are immigrants at all.
    Even the former distinction is weak. Consider the similarities between, say, the wave of European immigration that arrived in the 1880s and 1890s and those who have come over the past decade, and they dwarf the differences. Descendants of the huge waves of European immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries make much of the fact that their great grandparents came here “legally,” but they rest their case on a technicality: the only reason they were legal was that there was no law in effect restricting European immigration until the 1920s. In fact, European immigrants didn’t even need to identify themselves to get in — the derogatory word for Italians, “WOP,” was an acronym stamped on entry documents that meant the person was arriving “With Out Papers.”
    It’s true those earlier immigrants hadn’t violated any law, but they never asked American citizens for permission to come and, while they contributed much to the growth of the American economy they, like their modern counterparts today, were not embraced with open arms by all of American society. In the mid-19th century, gangs would pepper arriving German immigrants with stones; walk into any Irish bar in New York City and you’ll find the ubiquitous sign reading, “Irish Need Not Apply.” Now those signs are a kitschy testament to Irish integration into American society, but back then they were anything but.
    When one listens to the arguments put forth by people like Lou Dobbs today, they’re virtually indistinguishable from what was said of those earlier European immigrants: they’re invading in huge numbers; they won’t assimilate like earlier immigrants have; they won’t learn the language like earlier immigrants did; they vote in mindless blocs; they’re unclean; their religions are backwards, and etc. Consider Benjamin Franklin’s concerns expressed in a letter written in 1753:
    Measures of great Temper are necessary with the Germans … Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation … I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties; Few of their children in the Country learn English; they import many Books from Germany; and of the six printing houses in the Province, two are entirely German, two half German half English, and but two entirely English; They have one German News-paper, and one half German. Advertisements intended to be general are now printed in Dutch and English; the Signs in our Streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only German … In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies … they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.
    That hearty German stock that had Ben Franklin so concerned would produce such esteemed Americans as Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the infamous “Sensenbrenner Bill” that would have made it a felony to even offer humanitarian aid to an undocumented immigrant, among other provisions. Sensenbrenner is just as concerned with the large numbers of Latin Americans coming in to the country today, and his rhetoric is very similar to old Ben Franklin’s. One of the key differences is that in Franklin’s era — and through the middle of the 20th century — immigration restrictionists spoke of the innate inferiority of other human “races”; in modern times, that’s impolitic, so Sensenbrenner and his contemporaries make a big show of distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” immigration.
    In every generation, the gloom and doom predictions about how those newer immigrants would ultimately lead to the nation’s destruction have proven overwrought and inaccurate. By the third generation, the Irish, Poles, Italians and all the rest of Europe’s immigrants had all become Americans. And so it will be with today’s new immigrants. According to a recent study cited in The Washington Post, immigrants today are no different; in fact, the study noted that “immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations.”
    The similarities don’t end with the consistent hostility some Americans have for newer arrivals. Individuals have all sorts of reasons for emigrating, but throughout our history, when large numbers migrate from a single country or region, it’s always been in response to some kind of shock in their country of origin, be it civil strife or pestilence or drought or war or economic collapse or natural disaster. Today we have a large number of immigrants from Mexico — slightly more than half of all new migrants — which followed the peso crisis, which was aggravated by job displacement resulting from NAFTA’s liberalization of agriculture. Again, this is consistent, whether we’re talking about the Irish fleeing the Great Potato Famine, Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms or Vietnamese boat people fleeing war in South-East Asia. The Wikipedia entry for Swedish emigration to America explains that their numbers peaked just after the Civil War:
    There was widespread resentment against the religious repression practiced by the Swedish Lutheran State Church and the social conservatism and class snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. Population growth and crop failures made conditions in the Swedish countryside increasingly bleak.
    Aside from the obvious demographic differences between today’s immigrants and those of earlier eras, there was another difference. Relative to the native population, the wave of elevated immigration hitting our shores today is nothing compared to previous ones. During the 1980s and 1990s, about 16.4 million immigrants came to America — a number equaling 7.1 percent of the 1981 population; during the period between 1901and 1920, about 14.5 million new arrivals came to America, but that number represented 18.9 percent of the population in 1901.
    Those who like to throw around rhetoric about some huge “invasion” would do well to read some history — what we’re seeing now is a drop in the bucket compared to earlier periods of American history

  11. Frank said:

    How convenient to only address the so-called racism on the part of the U.S. for having immigration laws. I also mentioned Mexico and the other countries on this planet who also have immigration laws. I asked if they were racists also for having immigration laws. No answer…the silence was deafening.
    I couldn’t care what this Joshua Holland’s opinion if on supposedly re-defining the word immigrant. He isn’t anybody. Our government says there is a difference between a legal immigrant and an illega alien and those are the correct terms for the two different catagories. Don’t like it, then take it up with them!
    It wouldn’t even matter if these 12-20 million illegal aliens are a drop in the bucket compared to the past, it is still an invasion with that many people that have entered our country illegally and stayed. That many people past or present who have come here “illegally” IS AN INVASION! I’ll let the past deal with the past and the present deal with the present.

  12. Horace said:

    How about this for bad news, Evelyn? Every illegal alien crossing the Arizona border can now be legitimately convicted of smuggling himself.
    http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/border/92478.php
    Conviction upheld for planning elsewhere to be smuggled into AZ
    The Associated Press
    PHOENIX — A new court ruling says Arizona can prosecute people who arrange to have themselves smuggled into the country even when they made all the arrangements while still outside the state.
    The Court of Appeals ruling upholds the conviction of a Mexico City man who told police that he arranged to have himself smuggled into Arizona while in San Luis, Mexico.
    Andre Coz Flores pleaded guilty to solicitation of the crime of human smuggling. But he appealed on grounds that there wasn’t jurisdiction to prosecute for solicitation because the alleged crime took place outside Arizona.
    But the Court of Appeals says a solicitation charge can be based on results of the crime involved, and it cites Flores’ presence in Arizona as a result of being smuggled across the border.

  13. Evelyn said:

    Frank:said
    It wouldn’t even matter if these 12-20 million illegal aliens are a drop in the bucket compared to the past, it is still an invasion with that many people that have entered our country illegally and stayed. That many people past or present who have come here “illegally” IS AN INVASION! I’ll let the past deal with the past and the present deal with the present
    E
    http://www.wecanstopthehate.org/videos/code_words_of_hate_video
    The Rhetoric: Racists Declare “Open Season” on Immigrants
    The new ADL report cites examples of virulent anti-immigration rhetoric from both notorious and lesser-known figures on the American far-right scene. Some examples include:
    • “Slowly but surely we are headed toward the solution that I have been advocating for years: KILL ILLEGAL ALIENS AS THEY CROSS INTO THE U.S. When the stench of rotting corpses gets bad enough, the rest will stay away.” — New Jersey Racist radio talk show host Hal Turner, October 31, 2005.
    • “We now have another game animal to add to our list of available targets for our favorite pastime, hunting, and we’ll declare permanent OPEN SEASON on these dirty wetbacks! From what I’ve heard through the grapevine the Skinheads and Klans across the country are more than prepared for this type of action. I say let’s play by state and see which state can claim the most kills and let the jewsmedia whores keep score!” – Web site of Aryan Nations faction leader August Kreis, October 2005.
    • “They (Hispanics) are barbarians, they are our enemies, they want to destroy our civilization and we have to fight them. We need to organize better and be more open activists; otherwise, I only see race war in the future – post by “AllisioRex”on the neo-Nazi Web forum, Stormfront, July 2005.
    ~~
    EVERYONE NOTICE THE “INVASION” WORD USED HERE, and they wonder why they get called racists.LOL!
    ~~
    {Aside from racist rhetoric against Hispanics, white supremacists also have been urging each other and white Americans as a whole to “fight back” against the perceived “invasion” of the U.S. by organizing explicitly anti-immigration counter-protests and events. The ADL report notes, for example, that White Revolution, an Arkansas-based neo-Nazi group, asked its followers to participate in a national “Anti-Invasion Day” on April 10, 2006 in response to pro-immigrant marches planned for that day.}
    “The rhetoric we are seeing about Hispanics is downright scary,” said Mr. Foxman. “While these sentiments are often relegated to the private chat rooms, blogs and message boards maintained by hate groups, it only takes one individual with hate in his heart to act on these notions. For us, that is a very real concern as the national discussion on immigration continues to gain momentum.”
    The Violence: Growing Number of Assaults
    The past several years have seen a growing number of violent assaults and attacks by white supremacists against legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants, as well as Hispanic American citizens, with crimes ranging from vandalism to brutal assaults and murders. In most cases the perpetrators did not even know the victims, but targeted them solely because of their appearance.

  14. Evelyn said:

    Old news Horace, Sheriff Arpayso in the ‘bigoted wild west’ has been using that analogy to arrest anything Hispanic or Mexican, (rumor has it) including Mexican cactus, for violating HIS interpretation of HIS immigration laws in HIS ‘bigoted wild west’ where he plays judge jury and around with certain porno starlets. Get the scoop at “Feathered Bastard” they know everything about him.

  15. Evelyn said:

    Frank : said
    How convenient to only address the so-called racism on the part of the U.S. for having immigration laws. I also mentioned Mexico and the other countries on this planet who also have immigration laws. I asked if they were racists also for having immigration laws. No answer…the silence was deafening.
    E
    It wasn’t answered because you would be embarrassed, but because you insist, here it is.
    Its the unequal and inhumane treatment of immigrants that our broken immigration laws produce that we are against.
    At least Mexico is doing something about theirs while here no one gives a damn.
    Hispanic citizens, and all Hispanic in the U.S. regardless of their status are suffering because we have wimps and racist in congress. The wimps are too chicken to punch the racist in the face and send them back to the cave they crawled out of, so congress can proceed to enact immigration laws that are enforceable and Humane at the same time.
    Below is an example of the difference!
    Another point is why should we enact or accept laws from countries that have corrupt leaders and are willing to dance to the tune the U.S. gov, plays leaving their people to starve to death.
    We should be looking to adapt laws from countries that offer humane treatment to all people within their borders, or just follow the supreme law of this land.
    Mexico will no longer jail illegal immigrants
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Originally published 01:54 p.m., July 21, 2008,
    MEXICO CITY (AP) -
    Mexico will no longer jail illegal immigrants detained within its borders.
    A measure that takes effect Tuesday eliminates jail times for illegal immigrants caught in Mexico. Most are crossing the country from Central America en route to the U.S.
    Undocumented immigration will now be considered a minor offense, punishable by fines equal to US$500 to US$2,400. Illegal immigrants previously faced up to 10 years in prison, though most were simply deported.
    Mexican legislators who backed the revision say Mexico’s previous penalties complicated efforts to lobby for better treatment of Mexican immigrants in the U.S.
    Activists want more to be done to protect migrants in Mexico, where many are robbed and abused on their way north
    Thanks to U.S. immigration policy, children (including infants and toddlers) whose parents are in immigration courts, are being locked up at detention centers.
    Named after the co-founder of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the T. Don Hutto Correctional Center in Taylor, Texas, opened as a medium-security prison in 1997. Today, the federal government pays CCA, the nation’s largest private prison company, $95 per person per day to house the detainees, who wear jail-type uniforms and live in cells.
    But they have not been charged with any crimes. In fact, nearly half of its 400 or so residents are children, including infants and toddlers.
    The inmates are immigrants or children of immigrants who are in deportation proceedings. Many of them are in the process of applying for political asylum, refugees from violence-plagued and impoverished countries like Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Somalia and Palestine. (Since there are different procedures for Mexican immigrants, the facility houses no Mexicans.)
    In the past, most of them would have been free to work and attend school as their cases moved through immigration courts. “Prior to Hutto, they were releasing people into the community,” says Nicole Porter, director of the Prison and Jail Accountability Project for the ACLU of Texas. “These are non-criminals and nonviolent individuals who have not committed any crime against the U.S. There are viable alternatives to requiring them to live in a prison setting and wear uniforms.”
    But as a result of increasingly stringent immigration enforcement policies, today more than 22,000 undocumented immigrants are being detained, up from 6,785 in 1995, according to the Congressional Research Service.
    Normally, men and women are detained separately and minors, if they are detained at all, live in residential facilities with social services and schools. But under the auspices of “keeping families together,” children and parents are incarcerated together at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, as it is now called, and at a smaller facility in Berks County, Penn. Attorneys for detainees say the children are only allowed one hour of schooling, in English, and one hour of recreation per day.
    “It’s just a concentration camp by another name,” says John Wheat Gibson, a Dallas attorney representing two Palestinian families in the facility.
    In addition, there have been reports of inadequate healthcare and nutrition.
    “The kids are getting sick from the food,” says Frances Valdez, a fellow at the University of Texas Law School’s Immigration Law Clinic. “It could be a psychological thing also. These are little kids, given only one hour of playtime a day, the rest of the time they’re in their pods in a contained area. There are only a few people per cell so families are separated at night. There’s a woman with two sons and two daughters; one of her sons was getting really sick at night but she couldn’t go to him because he’s in a different cell. One client was pregnant and we established there was virtually no prenatal care.”
    When local staff for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) collected toys for the children at Christmas, Hutto administrators would not allow stuffed animals to be given to the children, according to LULAC national president Rosa Rosales.
    “That’s what these children need — something warm to hug,” she says. “And they won’t even allow them that, why, I can’t imagine. They say they’re doing a favor by keeping families together, but this is ridiculous.”
    A CCA spokesperson refers media to the San Antonio office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but that office did not return calls for this story.
    Immigrants have been housed at the facility since last summer, and public outrage and attention from human rights groups has grown in the past few months as more people have become aware of the situation.
    In mid-December, Jay J. Johnson-Castro, a 60-year-old resident of Del Rio, Texas, walked 35 miles from the Capitol to the detention center, joined by activists along the way and ending in a vigil at the center.
    “Everyone I have talked to about this is shocked that here on American soil we are treating helpless mothers and innocent children as prisoners,” says Johnson-Castro, who had previously walked 205 miles along the border to protest the proposed border wall. “This flies in the face of everything we claim to represent internationally.”
    A coalition of attorneys, community organizations and immigrants rights groups called Texans United for Families is working to close the facility. The University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic is considering a lawsuit challenging the incarceration of children.
    Valdez sees the center as a political statement by the government.
    “Our country likes to detain people,” says Valdez. “I think it’s backlash for the protests that happened in the spring — like, ‘We’re going to show you that you’re not that powerful.’ It’s about power.”
    Kari Lydersen writes for the Washington Post out of the Midwest bureau and just published a book, Out of the Sea and Into the Fire: Latin American-US Immigration in the Global Age.

  16. Michaela said:

    Sheriff Arpaio does NOT interpret immigration laws to his own end Evelyn. You simply do not believe the United States of America has the RIGHT to enforce our immigration laws. Well we DO have that right just as much as any other country does and it is very disturbing that our rule of law is so abhorrent to you. I don’t think you have respect for any laws or law enforcement officers and you seem to advocate an incomprehensibe and arrogant anarchy.

  17. Horace said:

    “Old news Horace, Sheriff Arpayso in the ‘bigoted wild west’ has been using that analogy to arrest anything Hispanic or Mexican, (rumor has it) including Mexican cactus, for violating HIS interpretation of HIS immigration laws in HIS ‘bigoted wild west’ where he plays judge jury and around with certain porno starlets. Get the scoop at “Feathered Bastard” they know everything about him.”
    Old news, Evelyn? Not so, while Arpaio has been doing his duty for some time now, the article I referred to reports on the result of the recent legal challenge to the Arizona law. In its ruling, the court affirms the authority of the state, to include its law enforcement personnel (Arpaio), to arrest illegal aliens for smuggling themselves into the country.

  18. Evelyn said:

    Horace
    Below I have posted two articles on this subject. Look at the dates. Old news.
    Maricopa county has paid thousands to people who have won lawsuits against the county because of Arpayaso.
    Many are still in litigation. Hispanics are making a killing off this clown. The county is going broke. Even the governor had the good sence to cut his budget.
    Real criminals are running rampant while Arpayaso tours the country doing what he loves best, being a media whore and getting his picture taken alot.
    August 30, 2006
    PBS News Hour recently concluded a series on immigration.
    While the content of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s interview did nothing short of make me want to move to Phoenix just to vote against him in two years.
    Among the other segments in this series was an articulate discussion by an immigration attorney who deals with the law and people every day. The News Hour interview with Priscilla Labovitz is well worth watching.
    Finally, as commentary on Arpaio’s tough-as-his-tie-clip enforcement measures, this Op-ed piece in the Tucson Citizen:
    Blatant misuse of Arizona’s “coyote law” – seeking to prosecute not only human smugglers, but also illegal immigrants as “conspirators” – has been an enormous failure, and rightly so.
    Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has violated the intent of the law in his zeal to prosecute illegal immigrants. State Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, says the law he co-sponsored was intended to be used against human smugglers, not their contraband.
    Thomas has applied conspiracy laws to the year-old anti-smuggling statute in 263 arrests, but he has yet to obtain one conviction of conspiracy to commit human smuggling.
    The “coyote law” was designed to help law enforcement and prosecutors bring the heads of major smuggling rings to justice. Instead, Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are wielding it against those who are not even smugglers, much less conspirators, but are the easiest to apprehend and least able to defend themselves.
    Aside from being a misuse of state law, this effort also is a major tactical error. Conviction of key smugglers could have some effect on illegal immigration here, whereas prosecution of a few dozen more illegal immigrants accomplishes virtually nothing.
    ~~~
    Sheriff’s deputies assigned to find, arrest illegal immigrants (Maricopa County, AZ)
    KVOA Tucson Channel 4 News (AP Story) ^
    Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 11:18:06 PM by SandRat
    Illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert in will have to worry about being apprehended by one more law enforcement agency.
    A posse of 100 volunteers and deputies with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will be assigned to patrol the desert and main roadways in the southwest area of the county and arrest illegal immigrants, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a news release.
    The effort is an attempt to slow the tide of illegal immigrants into the county, Arizona’s most populous, according to the release.
    “There are so many illegals trying to make it into the county that it’s overwhelming my deputies,” Arpaio said.
    The sheriff’s office began arresting illegal immigrants in March under a new state smuggling law. Under the law, as interpreted by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, illegal immigrants can be arrested and prosecuted for conspiracy to smuggle themselves into the country.
    Arpaio’s deputies have arrested some 120 illegal immigrants under the law, which has yet to be tested in court.
    The law’s authors have said they intended it to be used to prosecute smugglers, not the immigrants being smuggled.

  19. Evelyn said:

    Michaela :
    Sheriff Arpaio does NOT interpret immigration laws to his own end Evelyn.
    E
    The “coyote law” was designed to help law enforcement and prosecutors bring the heads of major smuggling rings to justice. Instead, Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are wielding it against those who are not even smugglers, much less conspirators, but are the easiest to apprehend and least able to defend themselves.
    Aside from being a misuse of state law, this effort also is a major tactical error. Conviction of key smugglers could have some effect on illegal immigration here, whereas prosecution of a few dozen more illegal immigrants accomplishes virtually nothing
    ~~
    You simply do not believe the United States of America has the RIGHT to enforce our immigration laws.
    Well we DO have that right just as much as any other country does and it is very disturbing that our rule of law is so abhorrent to you.
    E
    If you are referring to the draconian broken immigration laws of the eighties that havent been enforced for twenty years and because they weren’t enforced have created this immigration mess.
    NO! I dont believe they should be inforced.
    Laws are not made to separate families and turn one group of people into felons when it is clear that those who didnt enforce the law also broke it and those who employ them also broke it and those who benefit from the goods and services immigrants bring us are also responsible for them being here.
    It is not right that only the immigrants get punished in inhumane ways for breaking a rule, when our ancestors broke the same rule and in the process murdered millions of Native Americans and were rewarded with citizenship.
    Today’s immigrants have earned their citizenship.
    Those old out dated immigration laws you speak of need to be changed to reflect what this country was built on, justice equality and freedom.
    That, is the American way!
    ~~
    I don’t think you have respect for any laws or law enforcement officers and you seem to advocate an incomprehensibe and arrogant anarchy.
    E
    That is so funny because most of my family have chosen one form or another of law enforcement as careers. My father and I didnt, he worked piecing togather the lives of ancient people. I chose mathematics as mine.
    You are certainly entitled to express your openion of me. That is what I fight for. Peoples rights, even yours.

  20. Gerald said:

    “Today’s immigrants have earned their citizenship.”
    If you are referring to illegal aliens, it would seem that all one has to do is cross our border without permission and get a job and one becomes a citizen. I don’t think so!! Abandon all hope, those who enter the mind of Ms. Chavez!

  21. Evelyn said:

    Because immigrants help drive the U.S. economy they should have the option to integrate themselves with the society that benefits from the fruit of their labor.
    Therefore, immigrants have earned their citizenship.”
    Gerald said:
    “Today’s immigrants have earned their citizenship.”
    If you are referring to illegal aliens, it would seem that all one has to do is cross our border without permission and get a job and one becomes a citizen.
    (you mean like the pilgrims did after they exterminated the Native Americans?)
    I don’t think so!! Abandon all hope, those who enter the mind of Ms. Chavez!
    and the next president of the U.S.A. and all the thousands upon thousands of people who have marched, and the millions upon millions of American citizens who are voting for the two presidential canidates who support a path to citizenship.
    ~~~
    you left out some people who agree with me, so I added them.
    ~~~
    Barack Obama Call for Earned Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants
    Date: Monday, April 03, 2006
    ~~~
    Imagine that and now I think he is actually going to accomplish his wish.
    ~~~
    The NAACP is calling on Congress to enact sweeping immigration reform that does not include enforcing a mass deportation campaign and a provision to build a 700-mile security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
    “Our nation’s immigration policy must be consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect and dignity,” Bruce Gordon, president of the NAACP, said in a statement.
    “We must move away from the politics of ostracizing immigrants and instead look at the demographic shifts and needs of our nation in a larger context,” Gordon said.
    A U.S. House bill passed in December — which has drawn fierce opposition from Latino groups — would make illegal immigration a felony, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of parishioners before helping them and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border.
    Last month, more than 500,000 people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to protest the House legislation and tens of thousands rallied in Phoenix and Milwaukee. In Detroit, protesters waving Mexican flags marched from the southwest side of the city where many Hispanics live.
    Senate majority leader Bill Frist said the Senate will likely begin debating the issue this week and craft its own immigration legislation, a prospect that has heightened the discussion about immigration reform and renewed calls for protests and letters to congressional leaders.
    Democrats like Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) say immigration reform is a divisive issue but contend that lawmakers should work collectively to assist immigrants living in the U.S.
    “I know that this debate evokes strong passions on all sides,” Obama said in a statement to BlackAmericaWeb.com. “The recent peaceful but passionate protests of hundreds of thousands around the country are a testament to this fact, as are the concerns of millions of Americans about the security of our borders.”
    “But I believe we can work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites the people in this country,” he said, “not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears.”
    Obama said the Judiciary Committee’s bill would strengthen enforcement, “but while security might start at our borders, it doesn’t end there.”
    He said millions of undocumented immigrants live and work in America.
    “We need to strike a workable bargain with them,” Obama said. “They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward.
    “But in exchange for accepting those penalties,” he added, “we must allow undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and step on a path toward full participation in our society. In fact, I will not support any bill that does not provide this earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population.”

  22. Evelyn said:

    Gerald:said
    If you are referring to illegal aliens,
    By Joshua Holland
    The word “immigrant” has nothing at all to do with legal status. It means, simply, to move from one place to another for the purpose of settling down. Papers, no papers — it’s all irrelevant to the act of migrating.
    The claim can be dispatched easily enough with a little elementary etymology. The word “migration” first appears in the English language in reference to humans in 1611, some 37 years before the modern nation state, with its discrete borders, came into existence. The Latin root of the verb “to immigrate,” immigrare, predates that by more than a thousand years. Human migration is a phenomenon that dates back to before homo sapiens even existed — pre-modern humans migrated wily-nilly. So, clearly, the word “immigrant” has nothing whatsoever to do with one’s paperwork being in order; its roots predate the existence of contemporary legal systems.
    An interesting question is why they bother making the argument at all? Surely, it’s not relevant to the larger issue.
    ______________
    Or so it seems. But it is relevant, in that it is a response to a major problem for real immigration hardliners: the United States is, indisputably, a nation of immigrants and our heterogeneity, contra the howls of many a right-winger, is a big part of what makes America what it is. You can gorge on Bratwursts in Michigan, drink way too much vodka and mingle with decked-out Russian gliteratti in Brighton Beach, still read local Deutsche Zeitungen in small towns in Minnesota, eat Ethiopian food with your hands in L.A., sing weepy Irish ballads over your Guinness in dozens of Boston bars, wander the docks as the Vietnamese fishermen come in for a Texas evening and get the best roast pork in Little Havana. And thank god for all of that — I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    But consider how awkward that simple reality is for a nice Irish boy like Bill O’Reilly, or someone like Tom Tancredo, whose grandparents — all four of them — immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the first decades of the 20th century. There are a lot of immigration restrictionists of European descent — people with names like O’Malley, Kowolski or Schmitt — who are incensed about the current generation of immigrants to America, and to avoid charges of hypocrisy — or simple cognitive dissonance — they have an almost obsessive need to distinguish between their forebearers — “good immigrants” every one — and these scoundrels coming here today.
    Usually, they’re content to hang onto the fact that their great-grandparents immigrated legally, but I guess some need to go a step further and deny that those who bypass the system are immigrants at all.
    Even the former distinction is weak. Consider the similarities between, say, the wave of European immigration that arrived in the 1880s and 1890s and those who have come over the past decade, and they dwarf the differences. Descendants of the huge waves of European immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries make much of the fact that their great grandparents came here “legally,” but they rest their case on a technicality: the only reason they were legal was that there was no law in effect restricting European immigration until the 1920s. In fact, European immigrants didn’t even need to identify themselves to get in — the derogatory word for Italians, “WOP,” was an acronym stamped on entry documents that meant the person was arriving “With Out Papers.”
    It’s true those earlier immigrants hadn’t violated any law, but they never asked American citizens for permission to come and, while they contributed much to the growth of the American economy they, like their modern counterparts today, were not embraced with open arms by all of American society. In the mid-19th century, gangs would pepper arriving German immigrants with stones; walk into any Irish bar in New York City and you’ll find the ubiquitous sign reading, “Irish Need Not Apply.” Now those signs are a kitschy testament to Irish integration into American society, but back then they were anything but.
    When one listens to the arguments put forth by people like Lou Dobbs today, they’re virtually indistinguishable from what was said of those earlier European immigrants: they’re invading in huge numbers; they won’t assimilate like earlier immigrants have; they won’t learn the language like earlier immigrants did; they vote in mindless blocs; they’re unclean; their religions are backwards, and etc. Consider Benjamin Franklin’s concerns expressed in a letter written in 1753:
    Measures of great Temper are necessary with the Germans … Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation … I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties; Few of their children in the Country learn English; they import many Books from Germany; and of the six printing houses in the Province, two are entirely German, two half German half English, and but two entirely English; They have one German News-paper, and one half German. Advertisements intended to be general are now printed in Dutch and English; the Signs in our Streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only German … In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies … they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.
    That hearty German stock that had Ben Franklin so concerned would produce such esteemed Americans as Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the infamous “Sensenbrenner Bill” that would have made it a felony to even offer humanitarian aid to an undocumented immigrant, among other provisions. Sensenbrenner is just as concerned with the large numbers of Latin Americans coming in to the country today, and his rhetoric is very similar to old Ben Franklin’s. One of the key differences is that in Franklin’s era — and through the middle of the 20th century — immigration restrictionists spoke of the innate inferiority of other human “races”; in modern times, that’s impolitic, so Sensenbrenner and his contemporaries make a big show of distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” immigration.
    In every generation, the gloom and doom predictions about how those newer immigrants would ultimately lead to the nation’s destruction have proven overwrought and inaccurate. By the third generation, the Irish, Poles, Italians and all the rest of Europe’s immigrants had all become Americans. And so it will be with today’s new immigrants. According to a recent study cited in The Washington Post, immigrants today are no different; in fact, the study noted that “immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations.”
    The similarities don’t end with the consistent hostility some Americans have for newer arrivals. Individuals have all sorts of reasons for emigrating, but throughout our history, when large numbers migrate from a single country or region, it’s always been in response to some kind of shock in their country of origin, be it civil strife or pestilence or drought or war or economic collapse or natural disaster. Today we have a large number of immigrants from Mexico — slightly more than half of all new migrants — which followed the peso crisis, which was aggravated by job displacement resulting from NAFTA’s liberalization of agriculture. Again, this is consistent, whether we’re talking about the Irish fleeing the Great Potato Famine, Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms or Vietnamese boat people fleeing war in South-East Asia. The Wikipedia entry for Swedish emigration to America explains that their numbers peaked just after the Civil War:
    There was widespread resentment against the religious repression practiced by the Swedish Lutheran State Church and the social conservatism and class snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. Population growth and crop failures made conditions in the Swedish countryside increasingly bleak.
    Aside from the obvious demographic differences between today’s immigrants and those of earlier eras, there was another difference. Relative to the native population, the wave of elevated immigration hitting our shores today is nothing compared to previous ones. During the 1980s and 1990s, about 16.4 million immigrants came to America — a number equaling 7.1 percent of the 1981 population; during the period between 1901and 1920, about 14.5 million new arrivals came to America, but that number represented 18.9 percent of the population in 1901.
    Those who like to throw around rhetoric about some huge “invasion” would do well to read some history — what we’re seeing now is a drop in the bucket compared to earlier periods of American history.

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