Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Guest Voz: Sen. Bob Menendez announces legislation to prevent government detention of legal citizens caught in immigration sweeps

Guest Voz: Sen. Bob Menendez announces legislation to prevent government detention of legal citizens caught in immigration sweeps

LatinaLista — As Latina Lista posted yesterday, a bill for the medical care and humane treatment of detained undocumented immigrants while in detention was presented to the Senate this week.
One of the sponsors of the bill, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez said, “We cannot forget that everyone who immigrates to this country, whether they are documented or not, is a human being. A detention should never amount to a death sentence. We should neither expect nor tolerate this type of neglectful treatment of our fellow human beings in the United States of America. At some point, this becomes more than a legal issue – it becomes a human rights issue. We have to ensure that the type of human rights we champion around the world is being observed here at home.”

However, Sen. Menendez isn’t only speaking up for the undocumented. Due to the Department of Homeland Security’s aggressive approach to apprehending undocumented immigrants in raids and placing them in detentions, US citizens and legal residents are also being caught up in these sweeps.
As a result, Sen. Menendez will be introducing legislation to prevent the unlawful detention of American citizens and permanent residents.
To explain the necessity of such legislation to his colleagues, Sen. Menendez delivered an important speech on the Senate floor on what is happening in Hispanic communities across the country because of this aggressive enforcement.
(The following transcript was provided to Latina Lista by the office of Sen. Menendez)

Our deepest obligation as United States Senators and as representatives of the American people is to make sure our nation’s founding promises are being kept.
With a few strokes of Thomas Jefferson’s pen, we were told that life and liberty would be unalienable rights, that a chance to seek happiness would be something to which we were all entitled.
Our rights grew over time—and over time we grew out of restrictions on who was entitled to those rights. African Americans threw down the chains of slavery. Women marched to the polls. People came from all over the world to become full members of our society, because of the promise that our country held and the guarantees that our government made.
But when agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement –also known as ICE –conducted raids in Texas not long ago, one 19-year-old U.S. citizen who was dragged from her home while she was still in her pajamas wasn’t thinking about that history.

An 18-year-old U.S. citizen who was shackled at his ankles, handcuffed at his wrists and tied at his waist wasn’t thinking about that history.
They were thinking to themselves, “My God, what’s happening to me? What’s going to happen to my family?”
When ICE agents banged on the door of a U.S. citizen named Arturo Flores, and pushed their way into his house in Clifton, New Jersey without showing a warrant; and when agents in North Bergen, New Jersey stormed into the house of a legal immigrant named Maria Argueta, in the middle of the night, and held her without cause, taking her away from her family for 36 hours—those loud knocks on the door quickly woke these law-abiding individuals up from their American dreams.
Hearing these examples, some people may say, “Well, this is what happens when people enter this country without going through the proper channels.” I hear it all the time because it is the mantra of people who defend ICE’s raids.
But these aren’t undocumented immigrants getting pulled from their homes in the dead of night. They are US citizens who are targeted because of their race, targeted because of their color. Denied every fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
Our fellow citizens may not have been surprised that they were yanked from their homes. They might have known that their immigration status wasn’t even necessarily relevant.
They might have heard stories about friends who were U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, but who were seized in immigration raids, detained, and in some cases, deported. I’m talking about U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
They may have known that their accent, their name, the color of their skin, the place where they lived would have put them at risk. They may have known that—regardless of what our politicians and historians say—fundamental Constitutional rights still might not apply to them, in today’s America.
We’ve been hearing these stories for too long. It’s time they were told on the Senate floor, because together we need to face a blunt reality: our legitimate desire to get control over our borders has too often turned into a witch-hunt against Hispanic Americans and other people of color.
Common sense repeatedly loses out to hysteria, and agents of intolerance repeatedly jump over the legal protections to which every single American is entitled.
I’m going to tell just a few stories today, but there are plenty of others like them.
Last year, a 30-year-old mentally impaired man named Pedro Guzman, who was born and raised in Southern California, was arrested on misdemeanor charges and scheduled to be released—he’s a U.S. citizen, but somehow, his accent, his name and the color of his skin must have convinced immigration authorities otherwise. So instead of returning him to his home, they decided to deport him to Mexico.
Even after immigration authorities realized their horrible mistake, they made no significant effort to correct it. Pedro attempted several times to cross the border home to the United States, and was repeatedly turned away. He was forced to wander the streets of Tijuana, eating out of trash cans to survive—a U.S. citizen.
His mother Maria was worried beyond belief, and took off time from her job to search for Pedro. Finally, three full months after he’d been illegally deported, Pedro found his way home. When he came back, his mother said, after so much trauma, only half of her son had returned.
Each of us in this country has to think, What if that happened to me? Why couldn’t that happen to me? What would happen to my children if I were taken away?
The authorities harass U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent in other ways.
Last fall, under the cover of darkness, a dozen immigration agents stormed into the Long Island home of Peggy Delrosa-Delgado, a U.S. citizen and a mother of three.
They pushed through her 17-year-old son, herded her children into the living room, and one of them drew a gun on a family friend staying in the house. This was the second time they had done this, supposedly looking for someone named Miguel who had never lived there.
Another U.S. citizen named Gladis was at her home one day when eighteen vehicles drove into her front yard, and twenty agents jumped out.
Agents banged on the door and threatened to throw gas inside the house if they didn’t let them in. While the children in the house ran and hid in the bedroom, the agents broke down the door.
One of the agents grabbed Gladis and attempted to handcuff her.
Gladis said she could prove her citizenship, and gave them her social security card. After interrogating Gladis and her family for twenty more minutes, the agents left as fast as they came — they had no warrant, no probable cause, no reason for their actions besides suspicion about someone’s name, their accent, and the color of their skin.
And there’s one more detail I should mention: Gladis was six months pregnant at the time.
Each of us in this country has to think, What if that happened to me? Why couldn’t that happen to me? What would happen to my children if I were taken away?
M. President, very shortly I’ll be introducing legislation to prevent the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
But the problem with our detention system is even larger. Beyond the U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are unlawfully detained, there are people who have come to the U.S. fleeing persecution, people who have committed no crime, but find themselves trapped and squeezed between the gears of the U.S. immigration system.
The Washington Post has recently run a disturbing series on the catastrophic state of our detention system. I encourage all of my colleagues to read it, and I ask Unanimous Consent to enter the articles into the record.
The whole series is staggering, revealing deficiencies in our detention system that most of us couldn’t dream up in our worst nightmares. The Washington Post has forced us, as a nation, to look in the mirror, and I for one am appalled by what I see.
We, the United States of America, the greatest democracy in the entire world, have been injecting people with heavy doses of drugs in order to deport them or just to move them around the system with more ease.
Immigration officials drug people going through U.S. facilities, and they drug people who are about to be deported. They drug some people so heavily that when they get off the plane they collapse on the tarmac, or they have to be rolled off the plane in a wheelchair.
They don’t only drug people to make it easier to kick them out. One story that stood out in both the Washington Post and a segment on 60 Minutes was that of a woman named Amina Mudey. Last year, Amina fled from Somalia to the U.S. to seek asylum after she was tortured and her family was killed before her eyes.
When she arrived at JFK airport, she was shackled, thrown in a van and driven to a windowless converted warehouse in New Jersey. Immigration authorities didn’t so much as find an interpreter.
Instead, they decided to lock her up, decided she was insane without even talking to her, and decided to inject her full of a drug to treat a disease she didn’t have. The side effects were awful. Her tongue swelled so much she couldn’t close her mouth. She drooled and vomited uncontrollably, and began to lactate.
When she complained, they upped the dose. She thought to herself, “maybe I’m going to die in here.”
Finally, five months after she was detained, she won her asylum case in court and was released from the detention center. Without the perseverance of her lawyer, Amina would never have emerged from her drug-induced state. She would never have found the asylum she so desperately needed.
This case sheds light on another grim reality: medical treatment at our detention facilities is atrocious. Over-medication is far from the only problem. Life threatening lack of care is also a serious problem. Take the heartbreaking story of Francisco Castaneda. Francisco entered one of our detention facilities battling cancer – although he didn’t know it.
All he knew is that he had significant lesions on his reproductive organs.
Offsite officials who never examined Francisco repeatedly denied him the biopsy he so desperately needed. After 11 long months in custody, Francisco argued for and eventually obtained a temporary release so he could pay for his own biopsy. Life-threatening cancerous tumors were found.
Despite amputation of the affected area and several rounds of chemotherapy, Francisco died of cancer at the age of 36.
A federal judge recently noted that this case appears to present, quote, “one of the most, if not the most, egregious Eighth Amendment violations [involving cruel and unusual punishment] the Court has ever encountered.”
The United States of America essentially killed Francisco Castaneda by denying him the medical care he so desperately needed. Why? Because he had entered this country without the proper documentation, at the age of 10, with his mother, fleeing civil war in El Salvador—a war the US had helped to fund, a war which sent thousands of refugees like him to our country.
He was denied care because he tried to make a better life for himself and his family. These are hardly offenses that warrant death. We cannot, in good conscience, allow these conditions to continue. That’s why I’ve joined together with my colleagues, Senators Kennedy, Durbin, Akaka and Lieberman, to introduce the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act.
First, the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish procedures for delivering basic health care to all immigration detainees in custody.
It requires DHS to give people in custody access to any medications they urgently need, both during detention and during any transfers.
Currently, a bureaucrat in an office can overrule a medical professional who is actually on site and seeing a detainee. This bill ensures that treatment decisions are made by the professionals who actually see the patients.
And finally, the bill would require DHS to report all detainee deaths to the Office of Inspector General and Congress.
We can never lose sight of the fact that everyone who immigrates to this country, whether they are documented or not, is a human being. A detention should never amount to a death sentence. This kind of action to ensure humane treatment and prevent unnecessary deaths at these facilities is long overdue.
Let’s not forget that many in immigration detention are there for minor violations, many because of administrative errors, or pending legitimate asylum cases.
At some point, this becomes more than a legal issue – it becomes a human rights issue, and it is our job to do all we can to secure our country while protecting the dignity of all human beings.
If we fail to do so, not only do we blemish ourselves, but we lose the moral high ground to be a beacon of democracy and a leader in human rights around the world.
M. President,
It is astounding to me that human beings could be treated as badly as some are being treated on our soil.
When innocent people are drugged, tranquilized and treated like animals,
When agents attempt to handcuff a pregnant United States citizen, break down the door to her home, and terrify her children and her family;
When an agency of the federal government deports its own citizen;
When all of this is going on, each of us in America has to think, What if that were my family? What if that happened to us? Doesn’t my U.S. citizenship, whether by birth or naturalization, protect me from this kind of abuse?
Some officials have claimed that these incidents are rare. Some of suggested that this is acceptable collateral damage in pursuit of undocumented aliens. They should tell that to Pedro, Gladis, Amina and everyone else, and all the families who have had to watch this happen. No matter how widespread this pattern of abuse turns out to be, one thing is clear: it isn’t rare enough.
There’s only one way to prevent that kind of abuse: it should be a universal policy, that before we accuse someone of being undocumented, there’s one other document we should inspect first: it’s called the Constitution of the United States.
It’s time for immigration and law enforcement on all levels to rededicate themselves to respecting the rights the Constitution guarantees.
That means respecting the need for probable cause and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, the right to Due Process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, the full benefits of citizenship and Equal Protection for anyone born or naturalized in this country guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment — and the entire range of rights and protections our Constitution grants.
This is going to take real leadership, at every level of our justice system, from the Attorney General, to the Secretary of Homeland Security on down.
That’s the only way that those who by birth or naturalization have a legitimate right to pursue the American Dream, won’t have to watch as their lives turn into an un-American nightmare.
M. President,
This issue might not be the legislative business of this chamber right now, but it is always our moral business.
It’s always our moral business to defend the most fundamental principle on which our nation was founded: that all of us are created equal.
Stopping illegal detentions of Americans based on their race is about more than properly enforcing the law. Above all, it’s about respecting people who may be different from us, but who share the same birthright.
As Martin Luther King said, “We may have come on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.”
If we’re worried about what to throw off the boat, it should be our oldest enemy: fear.
Once that’s gone, we can resume our course on the currents of freedom, and let our sails be filled with liberty and justice for all.

The following videos are of Sen. Menendez’ delivering his speech before the Senate. Together, the videos run twenty minutes.

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  • Evelyn
    June 13, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    YES! YES! YES! Sue the hell out of them!
    Being an advocate of justice and equality I just made a generous donation to Mal-def and the ACLU so they can continue to defend people who are denied these rights.
    It is ashame that our politicians have accepted this behavior for so long in their effort to pander to racist’s for votes.
    I congratulate Senator Menendez and the other Senators who are willing to put a stop to this dispicable behavior. It is embarrassing to see my country compared to Hitler’s Germany.
    I encourage those who can to make a donation to one of the many wonderful organizations who help immigrants and their families.
    We must remember there is strength in unity.

  • laura
    June 13, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Senator Menendez gave an eloquent and moving speech. I agree with Evelyn that he needs to hear from us, hear our appreciation and support. Also, I agree with Evelyn’s point that money talks, and that we need to put our money where our mouth is.
    However, in one point I disagree deeply with Senator Menendez’s speech. He recounts the horrifying actions of ICE against human beings, members of our communities. He denounces these actions. But he argues they are wrong because US citizens were targets. I say they are wrong because human beings are their targets.
    I am deeply convinced that the policy of ICE, to treat people like dangerous terrorists when they are accused of an immigration misdemeanor, is intended to normalize military action against civilians inside the United States. We are supposed to get used to people in the US being abused the way Blackwater abuses civilians in Iraq.
    Yes, people are being targeted because of their skin color and accent. But once we accept this as normal, anyone whom a government agency deems undesirable will be easily targeted. Military violence will be easily used against them. Who might that be in the near future? For example, people who demonstrate against high gas prices …
    We should not tolerate this violence against people in our midst, who are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children, and all beloved by someone among us.
    The ICE raids must stop now.
    Senator Menendez, please introduce a bill to stop the ICE raids.

  • laura
    June 13, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    I am convinced: there will come a time when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Condoleeza Rice will have international arrest warrants out on them, for the crime against humanity of starting a war of aggression in Iraq. It won’t be next year. It will be in twenty or twentyfive years. Just like Pinochet, the butcher of Chile, was not brought before a court until decades after his crimes.
    In the same way, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who was responsible for the events in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, will one day face a court of law for the deaths of poor people in New Orleans, and for his violations of human rights of undocumented immigrants. The ICE raids and the detention centers will be part of those court proceedings.

  • laura
    June 13, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Do you know where else they will use ICE-type violence against Americans? After floods like the one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they leave people who lost everything to fend for themselves.
    Whose duty was it to respond to the Iowa flood: that of Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, the author of the ICE raids.

  • kyledeb
    June 14, 2008 at 2:11 am

    This is a great post, Marisa. I hadn’t read through the whole speech until you posted it hear. It is truly historic and I hope it reaches the right ears.

  • Horace
    June 14, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Menendez is a racist only looking out for the interests of Latinos and no one else, just like you Evelyn. This legislation will get nowhere, so you’re wasting your money. This is just another attempt at undermining our immigration laws by allowing those who historically have not honored their word by returning for deportation hearings. There are enough Republican and Democrats that still listen to their constituencies to kill this bill. It probably won’t even get out of committee, as Congress knows that it’s a career killer.
    I remember Marisa mentioning ankle bracelets for illegal aliens. When this was done for a number of illegal aliens recently under house arrest, their advocates, not be satisfied with the freedom given these people, whined about how humiliating it was to wear them. Give an illegal alien a little charity and all our authorities receieve for their generousity is demonization. Advocates are unscrupulous liars for whom the ends justifies the means. Most Americans can see thru this crap and are closing their ears to such polemics.

  • Frank
    June 14, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Horace, I totally agree but you are talking to a brick wall here. They only care about their “race” and not about the citizens of this country nor it’s laws. It sickens me to think there are these kinds of so-called Americans living among us and that they could reach the majority at any time in our future.
    They complain about the White racism of the past and yet here they are taking on a new racial supremicy all of their own. Nothing but hypocrites! You are right, Menendez and the rest of the traitors in congress will not give this country away without a fight from loyal, law abiding Americans.

  • laura
    June 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Marisa, please forgive me for wanting to post a long quote from someone else. This is from Roberto Lovato, who write “Of America.” It is about the difference between John McCain and Barack Obama with respect to immigration.
    “What is, without a doubt, the most significant change since backers of the various versions of the McCain-Kennedy bill failed to reform immigration policy in 2006-2007 is how rancid and radically bad – detention deaths, thousands of raids, massive deportations, traumatized children, steadily growing streams of hate media and hate crimes, etc. – the anti-immigrant climate has become thanks to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and others. In such a climate, “immigration reform” focusing primarily on legalization and “border security” seems out-of-touch, if not dangerous.
    A more strategic, urgent and powerful immigration reform strategy has to center around the colossal tragedy caused by ICE, the colossal tragedy that is ICE. The greatest good Obama, McCain or anyone else can do to aid current and future immigrants is to put radically re-organizing, if not dismantling, ICE at the center of any discussion about “immigration reform” in the United States. Asking McCain and Obama to lead calls for either Congressional investigations or the establishment of a special investigative committee of some sort (as happened with detention facilities in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) seems like a good place to start. So would calls for the immediate resignation of ICE chief Julie Myers, who has overseen an agency that has sexually abused, physically beaten, drugged, used dogs against and even killed immigrant detainees in a manner not unlike that seen in offshore military detention centers.”
    Lovato says it clearly. The Bush administration has created a human rights emergency in our communities. They are inflicting unbelievable violence on families – for political reasons only. It’s not even that they can hope for material gain, like they did with the oil in Iraq. They are terrorizing families for no reason except political gain.
    We must respond now.

  • Daniel
    June 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Same old tired lies and racism from frank and horace.
    i still do not know why they are allowed to use this site to spew their crap.
    it doesnt lead towards any resolution and they just discourage others from posting, in fact, i know many well educated people who would post here if not for them.

  • Evelyn
    June 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Ha! Ha! Ha! According to Horace, anyone advocating freedom, justice and equality for all people within our borders is a racist. Thats so funny! Horace cant comprehend that were it not for people like myself and Sen. Melendez who defend his rights according to the constution he would not have the freedom of being a racist and showing his ignorance.
    Your ignorance has impeded your capacity to understand the bill. It is about LEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND AMERICAN CITIZENS that ICE is ILLEGALLY arresting!
    You say I am waisting my money, think again. The following is an example of how my money is bringing the results I want.
    MALDEF, ACLU and Otero County Sheriff’s Department Resolve Civil Rights Suit
    Sheriff’s Department Agrees to Revise Operational Procedures Concerning Immigrants
    April 9, 2008
    LAS CRUCES, NM— The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico today announced a landmark settlement with the Otero County Sheriff’s Department that addresses what plaintiffs alleged were civil rights violations committed by county deputies during immigration sweeps last September in the southern New Mexico town of Chaparral. Civil rights advocates say the agreement will help restore community trust in local law enforcement and greatly improve the safety of all people living in the County.
    The case settled after the Sheriff’s Department agreed to revise Operational Procedures that are intended to ensure that the rights of all Latinos living in the County would be protected and that they would not become the targets of immigration-related investigations and detentions without justification. Otero County also agreed to pay the families who brought the case monetary damages and an amount to cover their attorney’s fees and the costs of the suit.
    ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson said, “The sheriff’s department worked with us to draft a policy that draws clear boundaries around what are and what are not the responsibilities of local law enforcement officers when they encounter immigrants. It was drafted with one thing in mind: maximizing public safety. This is a smart policy that stands as an example to all other law enforcement agencies around the state.”
    On behalf of five Latino families, MALDEF and the ACLU of New Mexico alleged in the lawsuit that sheriff’s deputies raided homes in Chaparral without search warrants, interrogated families without evidence of criminal activity, and targeted households on the basis of race and ethnicity.
    The Sheriff’s Department denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to revise policies in order to provide more effective law enforcement to its constituents and to focus its attention on persons suspected of committing crimes.
    David Urias, MALDEF Staff Attorney and counsel in the case, said, “The agreement by the Sheriffs Department to revise their procedures means that Latinos in Otero County will be protected by local police from crimes, not randomly targeted for immigration enforcement.”
    The Otero County Sheriff’s Department operational procedure regarding the legal complaint and other relevant documents can be found online.
    Americas tax dollars including yours (if you work) are being wasted to pay for the actions of those who defend racism. It was the racists who rejected CIR because they refuse to accept that all men are created equal and all men should be treated equal. People like you who advocate hate have never won and never will!
    Immigrants especially Hispanics are not asking for ‘charity’ (as you want others to believe) that is why they work hard. Everything they have has been earned.
    In fact many of the benefits, services, and and products you enjoy are thanks to Immigrants. Example, stimulus rebate checks. Money from immigrants taxes was used to pay your check. They didnt get one!
    Racists are unscrupulous Ignorant liars for whom the ends justify the means. Most Americans can see thru this crap and are closing their ears to such polemics by voting out all racist politicians. (Tancrudo and duck Hunter) and choosing those who embrace the concept of justice and equality for all people within our borders including immigrants.
    Show me proof that most Americans favor your racist agenda. Proof from any racist org. is not acceptable as it is well known they LIE.

  • arturo fernandez
    June 14, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    “Menendez is a racist only looking out for the interests of Latinos and no one else,…”
    Horace, that sentence doesn’t make sense. “Latino” is not a race, and neither is “hispanic,” by the way. Hispanics are a mixture of races, which includes white. Look at the guy’s picture. He looks white.

  • Evelyn
    June 14, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Please remember it is their ignorance and the ability for them to show it on forums like this one that has turned the Majority of Americans against them.
    These forums are the perfect place for the American public to see the racism that drives their efforts.
    U contraire, we should be thanking Horace and others like him for changing the minds of the majority of Americans.
    We also need to thank Marisa for having the patience to tolerate their antics. She has shown true professionalism and intelligence in her decision to allow all of us the ability to express our views. Thank You Marisa!

  • Evelyn
    June 14, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Another lawsuit your taxes are paying for because of ICE.
    Home : Immigrants’ Rights : Detention
    ACLU Challenges Prison-Like Conditions at Hutto Detention Center
    On August 27, the ACLU announced a landmark settlement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that greatly improves conditions for immigrant children and their families in the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas.
    The settlement was the result of lawsuits brought earlier this year on behalf of 26 immigrant children detained with their parents at Hutto. The lawsuits contended that the conditions inside the detention center violate numerous provisions of Flores v. Meese, a 1997 court settlement that established minimum standards and conditions for the housing and release of all minors in federal immigration custody.
    Since the original lawsuits were filed, all 26 children represented by the ACLU have been released. The last six children were released days before the settlement was finalized and are now living with family members who are U.S. citizens and/or legal permanent residents while pursuing their asylum claims.
    Conditions at Hutto have gradually and significantly improved as a result of the groundbreaking litigation. Children are no longer required to wear prison uniforms and are allowed much more time outdoors. Educational programming has expanded and guards have been instructed not to discipline children by threatening to separate them from their parents.
    In addition to making those improvements permanent, the settlement also requires ICE to provide, among other things:
    allow children over the age of 12 to move freely about the facility
    provide a full-time, on-site pediatrician
    eliminate the count system which forces families to stay in their cells 12 hours a day
    install privacy curtains around toilets
    offer field trip opportunities to children
    supply more toys and age- and language-appropriate books
    improve the nutritional value of food
    ICE must also allow regular legal orientation presentations by local immigrants’ rights organizations; allow family and friends to visit Hutto detainees seven days a week; and allow children to keep paper and pens in their rooms. ICE’s compliance with each of these reforms, as well as other conditions reforms, will be subject to external oversight to ensure their permanence.
    Despite the tremendous improvements at Hutto, the facility retains its essential character: it was a medium security prison managed by the Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit adult corrections company. The ACLU remains adamant that detaining immigrant children at Hutto is inappropriate and calls on Congress to compel DHS to find humane alternatives for managing families whose immigration status is in limbo.

  • Marisa Treviño
    June 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    No, my thanks is to ALL of you who keep up the dialogue. Though it doesn’t seem like it because no one is changing their minds, no one is packing up and leaving either. Even though we disagree, we have to keep talking because I do believe in there being a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Zapata
    June 14, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Evelyn,
    I too appreciate Marisa’s hard work and I enjoy her articles very much.
    But I think it’s one thing to differ in opinion and another to regurgitate the same lies over and over.
    For example, frank thinks’ we’re all socialists. But he is the one for HC’s health care plan.
    So that can be pointed out. That’s just an opinion.
    But when frank and horace tell lies about Mexico and, for example, the U.S. immigration laws, this site becomes a tool for the nativists.
    They have plenty of sites for their lies.
    Recently, my wife, Karina, and my sister, Licha, started reading this site. Now there friends from work are reading it almost daily.
    But they prefer not to post because of the repeated blatant lies from frank and horace.
    Not their opinions, mind you, but the constant barrage of lies regarding immigration, Mexico and Mexicans.
    Trust me, I know the EXPENSE and HARD WORK that goes into this site.
    And again, I do appreciate Marisa’s hard work
    It’s a doggone shame that the level of sophistication is allowed to be lowered by two spoiled little brats.

  • Frank
    June 15, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Thank you Marisa for allowing freedom of speech on both sides of the issue in here. This isn’t Nazi Germany. The only thing I wish you wouldn’t allow is name calling, false labeling and personal attacks in here. I have been guilty of that but only in retaliation for an initial attack on myself.
    There is no reason that adults shouldn’t be able to debate any issue without these childish tactics. But it is your blog and your call. It is very disheartening though and I don’t think I will be posting much in here anymore due to the above. You say you want solutions? Well, it will never happen when you allow that kind of behavior in your blog.

  • Horace
    June 15, 2008 at 9:36 am

    “I am convinced: there will come a time when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Condoleeza Rice will have international arrest warrants out on them, for the crime against humanity of starting a war of aggression in Iraq. It won’t be next year. It will be in twenty or twentyfive years. Just like Pinochet, the butcher of Chile, was not brought before a court until decades after his crimes.”
    Gee, another pointless prophesy that Bush and Cheney probably won’t even live to see. Both would be in their 80’s at that time. I can see it, at a time when they’re in wheel chairs or rest homes or 6 feet under the world will concern itself with putting them in prison. LOL.

  • Marisa Treviño
    June 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Fifteen years ago (bear with me please) when I started writing opinion columns, I did it to not only add my Latina perspective to the public dialogue — back then there were too few of us speaking out — but, I thought, if people would only see the logical rationale of what made my perspective more worthy than their’s they would change their mind. Naive.
    Well, I’ve learned along the way that when people do change their minds because of something I’ve written, it’s a nice feeling but it doesn’t mean as much anymore unless someone who is completely opposed to my logic begins the process of analyzing what I wrote to apply to their own beliefs and in an honest way compares and tries to understand why they believe the way they do, why I believe the way I do and arrives at a new conclusion that may not totally embrace what I say, but doesn’t adhere fully to their original beliefs either.
    It doesn’t happen often but it has happened. Unfortunately, I realize that there is both a generation in this country who sees the US today as it was back in the 50s and 60s — that we are a world power, a respected nation that can create its own rules without regard to world opinion and treat non-Americans as we wish, and there’s a contingent who have been recruited by strong anti-illegal immigration groups to infiltrate blogs like Latina Lista to create their own logic and are proponents of misinformation when it comes to topics in the illegal immigration debate.
    Both groups are stubborn and will never allow themselves to see that within this debate lies a much bigger issue than the “rule of law” and that is human rights. And that is what this debate is truly totally about.
    However, people who will stick to the rule of law argument will never concede an inch because “it’s the law.” So, the arguments will persist and with frustration from both sides, names inevitably will be used.
    Yet, no matter how repulsive we find the other side’s argument, it should never be an excuse to stand by and say nothing.
    One reason I started Latina Lista was because I wanted Latinas to have a platform to speak out on subjects where there is an underrepresentation of Latina thought. Some of us have been made to feel that our opinions are of less value or are not supported with enough education to make people listen to our opinions.
    Daniel, if your friends really don’t post here because they are turned off by Frank and Horace then these guys win.
    On this site, as any site, there are two ways to respond to critical posts — ignore them and write what you want or respond.
    But as I’ve said, posts like those from Frank and Horace provide a window into the mentality of how the “other side” thinks. That Frank and Horace continually post at Latina Lista has always made me wonder what the enjoyment is for them to be called racists and other names.
    They’re never going to change their minds and there are a whole lot of others out there with the same mindset. To be honest, I see their exchanges on the list as a kind of “practice dueling” because the immigration debate in the coming months will only escalate.
    For what it’s worth, I still think this exchange is healthy because it’s wearing people down. When that happens, things start to slowly change.
    I can only hope that will happen but more importantly, I would hope that more Latinas find the courage to come to the keyboard and add their opinions to any of the posts.
    We ALL deserve to be heard, and I, in my small way, am trying to provide that chance to everyone.

  • laura
    June 15, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Daniel says: “Recently, my wife, Karina, and my sister, Licha, started reading this site. Now there friends from work are reading it almost daily.
    But they prefer not to post because of the repeated blatant lies from frank and horace.”
    No entiendo.
    Living, breathing, thinking, hard-working Latinas are not letting us know what they think, what their experience is, what their priorities are, because of losers like “Frank” and “Horace” ? “Frank” and “Horace” who have so little going on in their lives that they have time to write long iterations and reformulations of the same ignorant bigotry on here over and over?
    Karina and Licha, I want to know what you think about Senator Menendez’ speech. What you think about the ICE raids. What you think the most pressing issues for Latinas are these days. Please take a brief moment and tell us.

  • Frank
    June 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    As I said, Marisa. I have no problem with the other side expressing their opinion with civility. I could even perhaps be swayed a little by the other side if they didn’t resort to personal attacks and name calling. As long as they continue with that, I will never be swayed. The ball is in your court.

  • miguel
    June 15, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Frank wrote:
    I could even perhaps be swayed a little by the other side if they didn’t resort to personal attacks and name calling.
    You first Frank. Step up and try to dialogue in a civil manner.

  • Evelyn
    June 15, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Whining again I see. Cant take the heat stay out of the kitchen.
    You have called me trash and racist numerous times and other names also. It never fazes me because I know I am not those things.
    Your conscious bothers you because you know you are racist. When you defend hate and bigotry you will have to face consequences.

  • mayanmx
    June 16, 2008 at 1:30 am

    I am so grateful to this forum, and bringing the information you do to light.
    I am so grateful and impressed by Senator Menendez’ speech and actions, to bringing this reality to light, to inform Senators and the public, who need to know what is being done in their name.
    I really look forward to more people writing in to this blog because I think in some way, the misunderstandings, often so painful and heartbreaking to hear, do lead through discussion to better understanding.
    I appreciate Frank saying above that he also wants to be civil and may have felt hurt too. I think it took a lot for you to write that, maybe there is some common ground we can stand on.
    Frank, do you agree that the abuses discussed and described by the Senator are inappropriate? I would contend the actions are totally inappropriate. I feel that way regardless of who the abuse is applied. Am I NOT to defend those constitutional rights BECAUSE the people caught up in the immigration debate are ‘LATINO’? (Capitals are meant as emphasis, not insult). Can you see how this just doesn’t make sense? Can you see how this feels discriminatory? Are you suggesting that people, including the Honorable Senator, that defend AMERICANS getting caught up in the raids, the majority who happen to be Latino, are racist?
    I am trying to take your last post seriously, please reply seriously. Let’s break this down. Let’s talk first about 1) Americans being held in detention mistakenly as immigrants, as well as those immigrants who have their citizenship or permission to be here, and second, 2) Immigrants without papers.
    Personally, I believe all people should be treated with human rights.
    I am really trying here to understand what is happening. I am stunned and horrified to learn even more about detention, drugging people, moving them around? Its been said so well by the Senator and others, but I can’t believe this is the country we call the United States. I have lived in other places where that behavior is expected, and the kind of fear and trauma that develops in people who live in these types of systems are deep. I just feel like we really haven’t thought about the impact of what is happening.
    I can not get over the fact that CHILDREN were put in jail uniforms, are even in jail at all. I still have not gotten over learning from this blog that there was an investigation going on that was disrupted, and all the work that went into the investigation lost, when the raid happened in Iowa. I share that information with people when we talk because it was so stunning to me, I am still trying to digest it.
    A lot could have been learned from that investigation. If there is going to be some sort of permit or similar process, what could we have learned that might have been instructive and provided any permit process with a more realistic approach to contracting labor in a human way?
    Consider the death of 17-year-old migrant worker, Maria Isabel Vasquez, contracted to work in the fields of California, and died from dehydration in 100 plus degree heat without water available as required by law. She was pregnant at the time she died.
    These are old abuses being done today. Seriously, did Cesar Chavez not bring attention to similar working conditions decades ago? Frank, can you agree that the laws in place to protect workers should be enforced?
    I think if we can just start seeing people as people, we can sit down to start talking about how this situation can be handled in a human way. I believe its the least we can do considering there have been decades of complicity on all sides.
    Thanks again Marisa, for creating this space, putting up with insults and cantankerousness, your efforts are appreciated and valued.

  • Frank
    June 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    The only time I have resorted to any deragatory remarks in this blog is in retaliation of the personal attacks on me FIRST! Lie all you want but I am not the one that came in here calling every anti-illegal that posts in here, a racist from the get-go.

  • Frank
    June 16, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    mayanmx, I appreciate your civil discourse in here. I will try to answer all of your questions. It is unfortunate when innocent citizens get caught in investigations and perhaps arrested for suspicion of a crime. It happens all the time though, even outside the immigration issue. But to conclude that it is “abuse” is a stretch in my opinion.
    For example, let’s say they are looking for a white guy who has committed a crime and myself and all my white friends get hauled in for questioning because we fit the description of the criminal even though we are all innocent. Yes, it is an inconvenience but I am confidant I can clear myself and I know that the law is only trying to do their job. I don’t equate that to be abusive towards me by being questioned or even arrested if they feel they have enough evidence to do so.
    In the case of the mentally impaired Hispanic citizen who got deported to Mexico by mistake, he told the authorities that he was from Mexico himself. Being mentally impaired there was miscommunication between him and the authorities. Obviously he didn’t have I.D. to prove otherwise. But it got cleared up. This is only ONE incident that happened that way but some want to make a mountain out of a mole hill to pull the race card.
    As far as any illegal aliens being drugged before deporation, Menendez convenienty left out the fact that those who were drugged were suicidal and out of control!
    It isn’t true that Hispanic citizens are being detained or questioned just because of the color of their skin and other ethnic nonsense. The police and ICE have probable cause to question and detain certain individuals based on investigative facts. If they have arrested someone by mistake all that individual has to do is prove that they are a citizen and not guilty of anything (alibi, I.D., etc.). The same thing happens with Americans of other ethnicities also.
    In the case of ICE and their investigations, it is a fact that most illegals in this country are Hispanic. That is the only reason that they are more suspect than others. Hispanic citizens have nothing to fear even if they are questioned or detained. It is unfortunate when mistakes are made with law enforcement but it is a necessary evil to catch those who really are breaking our laws and I don’t call that abuse. What is the alternative to this?

  • Evelyn
    June 16, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Amid Anti-Immigrant Fever, Ice Deporting More American Citizens
    A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle screams, 900 Nabbed in State on Immigration Charges. The Seattle Times reports, Feds Combing Jails for Illegal Immigrants. An AP article declares, Immigration Raid in Iowa Largest Ever in US and reports 390 arrests. In 2007, more than 276,912 US residents were deported. Thanks to a recent Bush Administration crackdown, the net cast by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is wide–so wide, it turns out, that some of those being deported are US citizens.
    Is ICE an efficient law enforcement agency? Or, in the words of Robert, 38, a US citizen twice deported to Mexico, is ICE “just throwing us out for nothing”?
    Consider what happened to Peter Guzman. Last year Guzman, a US citizen born in Los Angeles in 1977, drove onto the tarmac of a regional airport in his hometown of Lancaster, about eighty miles northeast of Los Angeles, boarded a charter plane without a ticket and refused to get off. Guzman was arrested and sentenced, and served forty-one days in a Los Angeles County jail. According to his lawyer, Mark Rosenbaum of the Southern California ACLU, Guzman was excited about being released in time for his brother’s July wedding in Las Vegas. “It was a big deal to Peter. He was going to be the best man.” It never occurred to Guzman that in July he’d be eating garbage and bathing in the Tijuana River.
    But on May 11, 2007, he called his family and said he’d been deported. According to the ACLU lawsuit, before his sister-in-law could find out exactly where he was and give him instructions, the line was cut. She overheard him ask, “Where am I?”
    In early August 2007, after Guzman had spent three months trying to return, his appeal to a border agent in Calexico was finally successful: Guzman was arrested for missing his first probation hearing and brought back to Los Angeles. ICE says it has Guzman’s signature on a voluntary departure agreement. Guzman’s attorneys say the signature was coerced and that it is never legal to deport a US citizen.
    Gary Mead, ICE assistant director for detention and removal, testified at a Congressional hearing in February that Guzman’s case is unique. But California Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren calls Guzman the “poster child” for an epidemic of detaining and deporting US citizens by ICE. Kara Hartzler, an attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), agrees with Lofgren. Last year Hartzler’s staff of six attorneys provided presentations and occasionally individual advice to more than 8,000 detainees in southern Arizona. About 10 percent of people ICE detains nationwide are sent to Florence and nearby Eloy, about sixty miles south of Phoenix. Hartzler testified, “The deportation of US citizens is not happening monthly, or weekly, but every day.”
    ICE does not keep records on cases in which detainees claim to be US citizens. If larger trends are consistent with the pattern in Hartzler’s caseload, since 2004 ICE has held between 3,500 and 10,000 US citizens in detention facilities and deported about half. US citizens are a small percentage of ICE detentions for this period, which totaled around 1 million, but in absolute terms the figure is staggering.
    Phone interviews suggest the higher end may be more accurate. I called fifteen private immigration attorneys whose names appear on a Justice Department list of pro bono attorneys in Los Angeles and left messages asking whether they had clients in the past three years who were US citizens held in ICE detention for at least one month. Seven of them called back, each describing one to four clients who meet these criteria. Using these accounts, and those from attorneys at three nonprofit immigration clinics, I documented thirty-one cases from across the country of US citizens, eight born here, incarcerated as aliens for one month to five years. Fourteen were deported. Five remain in detention.
    Between 2001 and 2007 Robert, who requested that his last name be withheld, was incarcerated for five years and deported to Tijuana twice because ICE refused to believe he was a US citizen. Robert described meeting seventeen other US citizens in ICE detention. Robert was born in Mexico in 1970 and orphaned at age 4. When he was 8 his uncle from Baldwin Park, California, adopted him. In 1983 he became a legal permanent resident, automatically acquiring US citizenship.
    In 2000 Robert was arrested for a DWI and evading arrest. After serving sixteen months, he was transferred to El Centro Detention Facility, about 100 miles east of San Diego, where ICE set about deporting him as a criminal alien.
    Robert told the court and his attorney, to whom he paid $5,000, that he was a US citizen, but his lawyer did not submit the necessary documents, and Robert lost the case. Robert believed an appeal was hopeless. The year he’d spent in detention was enough: “I decided to leave and come back [to the United States] the next day.”
    In February 2002 Robert disembarked from the ICE van in Tijuana with an order forever banishing him from the United States. The next day his sister-in-law picked him up and they drove into the United States together, telling the border agent they were US citizens, which they are. They drove to their homes in a Los Angeles suburb.
    In 2003 Robert, fearful of being turned over to ICE, sped away from a police car signaling him to pull over. He was sent to a deportation center in Chino and had a video hearing: “You face the TV and some little judge is inside TV talking to you.” He explained that he was a US citizen. The little judge ruled otherwise and told Robert an appeal would take nine months. Robert decided to repeat the 2002 routine. ICE again dropped him off in Tijuana.
    Robert told the US patrol agent apprehending him during the middle of the night in the hills of El Centro, “I am a US citizen.” The agent charged Robert with falsely impersonating a US citizen and other felonies associated with an illegal border crossing. The public defender told Robert to plead guilty to the impersonation charge, or he’d face additional time for entering the United States as an illegal immigrant. “I said, ‘No, I can’t. There’s no way. I’m trying to tell you, my dad is a US citizen. I am a US citizen.’ I told the judge that the things they’re charging me with are not true, but I have no choice and if that’s what it will take for me to go faster to my family, I will plead to that.” Robert served three years for falsely impersonating a US citizen.
    In 2006 Robert was released into ICE custody at Terminal Island in San Pedro. At this hearing the immigration judge considered the information Robert had assembled in the prison library and realized he was probably a US citizen. Robert was released on bond to find the relevant documents and a lawyer. A few months later Robert and his new attorney, Veronica Villegas, went to the Los Angeles United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office. Villegas told me, “The agent looked at his papers and said, ‘Congratulations! You’ve been a US citizen since 1983.'”
    ICE has no jurisdiction over US citizens. If someone claims birth in the United States, as Guzman did, then ICE agents must have a “reasonable suspicion” for disbelief before detaining him. Racial profiling doesn’t count. “Not speaking English, not being white and appearing to be from a Central American country is not enough,” says Rebecca Musarra, of the Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic of Washington College of Law. In practice, ICE detains thousands of people who were born in the United States and forces them to prove citizenship. According to Mario Quiroz at Casa de Maryland, which assists low-income Latinos, “People who have Spanish names, are five-four, have black hair, get profiled. At the end of the day, [ICE] only says, ‘Oops, we made a mistake.’ But somebody’s life was messed up.”
    Proving citizenship can be tough, especially when the people who might help can’t find you. An immigration judge, who requested anonymity, told me it was “notoriously common for people to be whisked away and nobody knows where they are. When you just want to get rid of someone, you don’t want their family to know where they are. It’s something that would happen in a Third World country. It’s not something that should happen [here].”
    Pastor Aquiles Rojas agrees. On October 11, 2007, he went to pick up his brother-in-law from a two-month sentence at the Honor Farm jail in Modesto, California. René Saldivar, 38, wasn’t there. “They told me that immigration had taken him, and they didn’t know where he was,” says Rojas. He called everywhere: San Francisco, Sacramento, Arizona. “They told me they had no record of my brother-in-law. We thought maybe he was in Mexico, but we couldn’t figure out why he didn’t call. Certainly he was in trouble. We just wanted to find out where he’s at.” Saldivar’s family was especially concerned because of Saldivar’s impaired psychological condition.
    After the family’s five-month vigil, Saldivar called. He was in the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Saldivar told me, “I didn’t have no money and no way of talking to nobody.” The center allows collect calls but cellphone plans will not accept them. Eventually a stranger lent Saldivar a calling card. In February Saldivar explained his ancestry to an immigration judge, who concluded that Saldivar most likely was a foreign-born citizen–like John McCain and George Romney–and sent the case to FIRRP.
    Hartzler told me she thought she could get Saldivar released at his hearing on April 9, but she had to track down the Social Security employment records of her client’s deceased father to prove his citizenship. She wrote, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for government proceedings with consequences as severe as lifetime deportation to rely on nonprofit organizations for their safeguards. For every René, there’s dozens of people with valid claims to US citizenship who are deported.”
    Detainees with psychological disabilities find it especially hard to navigate their release, but according to a FIRRP social worker, Erin Maxwell, “Even people who are not diagnosably mentally ill or developmentally challenged still don’t really get [why they’re in deportation proceedings], and it can be very scary.” One client of hers was arrested for possessing drug paraphernalia and then detained at Eloy for four months. “He didn’t bring up his citizenship with the judge,” Maxwell said. “Then I met with him and he said, ‘I don’t know why this is happening. Both my parents are US citizens.'”
    According to Nancy Morawetz, a New York University Law School professor supervising the Immigrant Rights Clinic, “a lot of people don’t know they’re citizens.” The rules for foreign-born citizenship are complicated. Different laws apply to different years of birth. Since the state does not guarantee legal representation in civil cases, 90 to 95 percent of detainees lack attorneys. Even the immigration lawyers seem not to understand the laws, the immigration judge told me. So it’s not surprising that Saldivar’s eleven siblings are just learning that they, too, are US citizens.
    For the millions of US citizens who are foreign-born, court precedents shift the burden of proving citizenship onto them. But the Fourteenth Amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” should be treated equally. Therefore, the Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic is planning to challenge the constitutionality of the burden of proof placed on US citizens born abroad.
    Finally, it was April 9, and Saldivar had his hearing, where his documentation was deemed insufficient. The Social Security Administration’s annual employment records in Arizona went back only to 1959. ICE wanted the additional two years to verify Isidoro Saldivar’s US residence the entire ten years before René’s birth in 1967. Hartzler was hoping the Washington office had the fifty-one-year-old employment records. René would begin his eighth month in detention.
    Giving Saldivar his liberty while ICE figured out the paperwork would have made sense because of his family’s roots in Stanislaus County, going back to 1940. In addition, NYU’s Morawetz says that doing otherwise may be unlawful: “I believe they don’t have the power to put a detainer on someone and figure it out later. It’s an abuse of the detention power. They only have jurisdiction over people who are noncitizens.”
    When ICE detains and deports US citizens, it is not only illogical; it also can be false imprisonment, a felony. When I asked Rosenbaum, Guzman’s ACLU attorney, why the government wasn’t prosecuting ICE agents for civil rights and criminal violations, he laughed and said, “Good luck!” Rosenbaum said the ACLU’s complaint was alleging false imprisonment, but US Attorneys were defending the government in the lawsuit. No US Attorneys have stepped forward to prosecute ICE agents. Meanwhile, immigration judges, many of whom are patronage appointments from the Bush Administration or former ICE agents, entertain the flimsiest of arguments on behalf of deportation.
    The case of Anna (not her real name), arrested in Phoenix on October 8, 2007, for prostitution, is particularly tragic. When the police asked for her place of birth she answered, “Paris.” When applying under another name for a US passport, in 1991, Anna wrote that she was from Tehran. According to Hartzler, Anna also claims JFK is her father and the Pope is her father. Anna is from France the way that Borat is from Kazakhstan. In February 2007 an Arizona Superior Court dismissed drug charges against Anna, finding her “unable to understand the nature of the proceedings” as well as “criminally incompetent and a danger to herself and others.” Anna has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.
    On October 9, based only on her claim to have been born in Paris, Anna was taken to the Eloy Detention Center, where an ICE agent took full note of her US passport application and “8 different aliases, and 2 SSNs.” On February 20 immigration judge Thomas Michael O’Leary, who had Anna’s records, including the diagnoses of the court psychiatrists, issued an order to remove Anna from the country. The French consulate refused to issue travel documents for her, telling ICE that Anna is not a French citizen. Having been possibly stripped of her citizenship rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Americans With Disabilities Act, Anna will be held in detention for at least three months. If released, she is not functional enough to attend the meetings ICE requires of aliens remaining in the country with deportation orders. A warrant for her arrest will be issued, and in her next encounter with law enforcement the warrant will trigger an arrest. Kristine Brisson, the ICE agent initiating Anna’s removal, did not return messages requesting comment. Judge O’Leary has been promoted to run the Tucson Immigration Court.
    Anna’s case may seem unusual, but US citizens with mental disabilities reflect the criminal inmate population ICE targets. According to a 2006 Justice Department press release, about 40 percent of the incarcerated population has “symptoms of mania.” Twenty-four percent of the jail population and 15 percent of state prisoners have a “psychotic disorder, such as delusions or hallucinations.” Rachel Rosenbloom of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice in Boston testified to Congress, “It is not uncommon for someone who is mentally ill and suffering from delusions to state that he or she was born abroad.” By using the incarcerated population as its hunting grounds, ICE is inevitably going to snare mentally ill US citizens. The immigration judge observed, “If you don’t have your marbles, or someone on the outside, there’s no safety net.”
    Carlos Barrios, a Los Angeles private attorney who has represented US citizens in detention, notes, “It is strange. How can they keep a person detained in an immigration facility if they’re a citizen?”
    In response to different versions of this question from members of Congress in February, ICE’s Mead pretended that the events brought before him did not exist. He repeated the law stating that ICE has no jurisdiction over US citizens, and then affected ignorance of ICE agents detaining US citizens. Mead was in the same room as US citizens testifying to ICE abuse. At one point Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez exploded in frustration over Mead’s failure to have any comment on a racial-profiling incident in Chicago during which ICE detained more than 100 Latino men: “Thank you very much for not knowing any of the information about a very well-publicized case on which Secretary Chertoff has been well informed!”
    The official line, as ICE public affairs officer Brandon Alvarez-Montgomery explained it to me, is that ICE does not “knowingly detain US citizens.” This is false. Hartzler showed an ICE attorney the Minnesota birth certificate of Thomas Warziniack, and yet ICE held him for two weeks until his hearing. Morawetz described a citizen in detention whose attorney faxed a New York birth certificate “and detention says, ‘How do we know this is that person’s record?'” even though the law requires ICE to prove otherwise.
    While Saldivar remained in detention, I sent Alvarez-Montgomery the details of his case, explaining that Social Security employment records for Saldivar’s father did not exist before 1959. He responded, “Anyone who[se] first year of earnings were recorded between 1937 to the present will appear on the Social Security statement. For this case, it’s safe to assume that 1959 was the first year of recorded earnings for his father.”
    Alvarez-Montgomery was wrong. Later, using, I found a Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) record for Isidoro Saldivar from before 1951. I sent it to Alvarez-Montgomery and other ICE officials. They did not reply or release René. I sent it to Hartzler, who contacted the RRB, which provided records of “compensation received by René’s father each year from 1947 to 1958, as well as a copy of his application for a Social Security card in 1947.” Hartzler gave these to ICE, which held René for six more days, releasing him on April 28.
    Shortly after that I asked Saldivar, who was drywalling his sister’s home in Chowchilla, how he understood what happened. “Someone took me to prison, even though I had my papers. It’s bad. It’s not fair,” he told me. ICE alleged that René lacked legal permission to reside in the United States. Even if ICE is correct, the charge of undocumented residence is a minor civil infraction that requires release to be disputed and is not a crime. ICE’s false imprisonment of US citizens and other legal residents, however, is a serious crime.

  • mayanmx
    June 16, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Ok. Frank. Good. let’s start:
    1) I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you.
    2) “abuse” does not come up just from being detained as a citizen for a crime that there might or might not be facts to support. Unfortunately, there have been huge public examples of actions being taken over the last many years without facts to support actions or aggressions. The “abuse” comes from using drugs to calm someone down without a medical degree and a psychiatric medical consultation. Or a translator. From the facts shared by the Honorable Senator, the woman who was drugged could not communicate due to a language barrier (how was it determined that she was suicidal?) and was inappropriately drugged. White, immigrant or not, this is abuse. If your grandmother was inappropriately drugged in a residential facility, its called elder abuse. The abuse comes from failing to adhere to the legal responsibility as a person or organization in charge, to not abuse its authority, and in this case, take advantage of its actual physical control over someone.
    3) I would suggest that you might indeed be able to walk out of the police station if you and your friends were arrested. Your skin color (i don’t know what you look like but you mentioned you were ‘white’), would offer you a sense of some comfort. I say this not as an insult, as a fact. Please take a look at the recent 20/20 programs of undercover studies showing how inherently different people of color are treated vs. other people. They taped two sets of people doing the same thing, and the audience can watch the differences. Is this a be-all-end-all study? No. However, it’s very instructive as to peoples’ lingering internal messages. I didn’t feel like people were being mean, or even, that the people were purposely acting discriminatory, but they were. Its not about pointing blame. Can you claim that this same thing happens in the other direction. Yes. True. But I bring it up to say that maybe we still don’t quite even understand yet how deep these beliefs about people are engrained.
    Here’s an example:
    It’s very important to point out something out. ‘Hispanic’ is a world (and a word) designed to encompass all people who speak the Spanish language. Hispanic is a large descriptive word that pulls in under one roof many different cultures. However, a lot (most?) people of ‘Latino’ descent recognize this word as a constructed word for convenience. The term is rather 1980’s, whereas ‘Latino” is more current. It’s a construction, yet, these terms can be considered a step up from “wetback,” cleaner words if you will. In that vein, “illegal” is also offensive for it denotes the person to be illegal. People cannot be illegal, there is no legal definition or standard by which any person has been declared “illegal” as a person. Their actions, yes, their persons, no. Can we agree that people should be people, not illegal or legal?
    4) What is behind a term is very, very important. The truth is the majority of the immigrants without papers currently the focus of raids are MEXICAN, not hispanic, not latino. You need to know that this is true, please look it up, its quite literally the majority. I want you to know that when you use the term Hispanic in talking about immigrants without papers, its a term that feels to me like an attempt to erase that reality. If you look at it in those terms, that is, the reality that Mexicans make up the majority of “latino, Hispanic” immigrants, legal and otherwise, one has to ask why we don’t just say that? Why don’t we deal with this reality that is unique to our country due to our neighboring geography to Mexico? When you consider the economic, political and other ties between our country and Mexico, including family, history, cultural, we must consider things in a different light. Our mutual countries’ failure to stem, come to grips, regulate, what you will, this reality is a diplomatic nightmare. The longer we use terms and facts and figures to obstruct seeing the reality, the longer we harm ourselves, and our neighbors.
    I am hoping that by sharing this information, should you chose to continue to use the terms, you will at least know that it’s purposely offensive. You have used many of these terms in the past, and that may have sparked the reaction you received.
    4) That leaders have failed to dig deeper and pull from themselves the answers, well, its clear, we haven’t gotten to common ground due to the complex nature of the situation. That, in itself, is enough reason to stop the raids that are bringing into practice processes not befitting a democracy.
    Yes, stop the raids. Why? Because it’s unfair. In the current scenario, you don’t just have a guy and his friends being called in for a crime, a one-time thing that might involve a “sweep” to find someone. This is on a national level, impacting every “Latino” community in the nation. Why should Latino, Hispanic, Mexican or immigrants have to pay the price? We have to be straight, we are not talking about millions of people from around world, we are talking about, at least in California, near 80% of all immigrants are from Mexico. Its not just people being pulled in to prove their citizenship, they are being yanked from their jobs, their children, families, communities, this is unbelievable. Officers didn’t arrive nicely and ask to come in to show their papers, their homes were broken into without warrants, children seized, often at nighttime, guilt not innocence was assumed. This is the legal system in other countries that see people jailed first, questions asked later. To not feel something for the “inconvenience” these people might go through just makes me ask where you are coming from. Are you willing to enforce immigration laws in the face of a crazy system that has been operating this way for a long damn time? Or should we be grown ups and sit down and figure this way out. Imagine your child wandering the streets in a foreign country, knowing he had a disability, no way to find him, no one caring for him. Do you really believe that mother deserved that inconvenience? That the man did? Please, please tell me you don’t think that’s ok.
    5) If you do, how then do you excuse, not inconveniencing the company? The customers that got cheaper prices due to the below rate wages? If the company didn’t violate labor and immigration laws, it can simply prove so through the complete investigation. Please tell me you too find this is important.
    Frank, please, I ask you today, really think about it, how would you feel if you woke up one day and arrest orders (not invitations to come in and prove your innocence) were being issued for all the people you knew, who lived near you, close to you, were parents of your kid’s friends. I think you can find some understanding for how people feel.

  • Evelyn
    June 17, 2008 at 3:52 am

    The only time I have resorted to any deragatory remarks in this blog is in retaliation of the personal attacks on me FIRST! Lie all you want but I am not the one that came in here calling every anti-illegal that posts in here, a racist from the get-go.
    I am also anti-illegal migration, but I dont call the immigrants names or lie about them like you. I dont demonize them with racist remarks and lies. Jax and Alessandra (I think that was her name) were also anti-illegal but I never called them racists for the same reason, they never showed racism in their posts.
    One day I referred to the racists in the forum and Jax asked me why I called him a racist. I told him I didnt call him a racist. I added that
    I didnt think he was a racist. The name was directed at Eyes, you and Horace.
    Just like the majority of Americans I dont accept racism, I think racists should suffer embarrassment for their actions. I think this is the way to fight racism.
    I also dont think we should go on accepting the whitewashing of our history, it’s time the truth is brought to light. History shows that our gov. has done some things that should not be repeated. This war that has ruined our reputation around the world and our economy here at home is one of them.
    It is because I love my country that I think these mistakes should not be repeated. If we dont bring them out in the open and discuss them they will be forgotten to be repeated.

  • Evelyn
    June 17, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Latinos outraged over CBS report
    As if Katie Couric didn’t already have enough problems.
    Weighed down by record-low ratings at the anchor desk of “CBS Evening News,” and by reports suggesting she will leave that post two years before her multimillion-dollar contract expires, Couric now has civil rights groups — mostly Hispanic — on her back.
    And for good reason.
    The CBS newscast that carries her name recently aired a one-sided and inaccurate report about illegal immigrant women who give birth to their children in the United States. The news story challenged the broader constitutional law of birthright citizenship and stated — without providing the correct context — that the births cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
    The story’s central figure was a woman identified as an illegal immigrant, who was lying in her South Texas hospital bed — her right arm wrapped around her newborn and her left hand punctured by an intravenous needle — while reporter Byron Pitts lectured her that “many Americans who struggle to take care of their own families think it is unfair that they should have to take care” of non-U.S. citizens.
    Immigrant advocates found the report so crass, and so far below the network’s journalistic standards set by legends Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, that they accused Couric of sinking to the depths of Lou Dobbs, the CNN broadcaster and contributor to CBS’s “The Early Show” who has inflamed national anti-immigrant sentiment. One Hispanic group posted on its website a photo of Couric that morphs into Dobbs.
    “Anti-Latino falsehoods deserve no time on our public airwaves,” stated a letter to CBS by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Council of La Raza. The groups and others have asked to meet with CBS “to help raise the dialogue and provide the American public an honest and accurate analysis of this nation’s broken immigration system.” And in a separate letter to CBS, the Asian American Justice Center lodged a similar complaint against the entire four-part series that included the report.
    CBS has not responded to the civil rights groups’ request for a meeting. “We appreciate the passionate and articulate feedback on our series. We will continue to do our best to listen to the many voices engaged in immigration issues, to produce fair and accurate stories and to bring national attention to this complicated topic,” CBS said in a statement.
    The Latino-led action against CBS comes at a critical time. The rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric, hate crimes against Latinos and election-year political pandering on immigration has caused Hispanic leaders to forcefully push back against the scapegoating that touches immigrants and various generations of Latinos.
    NCLR, MALDEF and the National Hispanic Media Coalition now have websites aimed at correcting “inaccuracies” in the media. The CBS broadcast is serving as the latest example of unbalanced reporting.
    In its written complaint to CBS, MALDEF cited a Texas comptroller’s study noting economic benefits due to the presence of undocumented immigrants. MALDEF also maintained the CBS report exposes the woman “and implicitly leads her to believe that she is protected from deportation.” And it portrayed birthright citizenship as “an unfair benefit to immigrants rather than a core principle” of constitutional law.
    One gaping hole in the news story involved a hospital administrator’s statement that the facility has “uncompensated care of over $200 million a year,” which the reporter tied to emergency room care for non-citizens. But how is that known if the hospital does not verify citizenship or legal vs. illegal immigration status?
    Civil rights leaders also contended Couric’s broadcast was inconsistent, not just because of her brand as “America’s sweetheart” but also because, in June, she is to receive the 2008 Alice Award, named for Alice Stokes Paul, the women’s suffrage leader and author of the Equal Rights Amendment.
    Despite objections to Couric’s broadcast, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joe Baca (D-Calif.) plans to attend the civil rights event honoring Couric. Baca has gathered 399 co-sponsors to his bill to posthumously award Paul the Congressional Gold Medal.
    “Right now, I believe that a chance to dialogue with Ms. Couric and the CBS News brain trust may be the most appropriate course of action. They need to be informed that their story was not only offensive to Hispanics but also misleading in its portrayal of immigrants as a drain on society,” Baca said.
    The Latinos’ battle for respect is being waged on multiple fronts.
    The Hispanic Caucus recently lashed out at Democratic Party leaders for staging House hearings — beginning next week in the Ways and Means Committee — on bills that would enforce the border, sanction employers or extend visas for seasonal workers.
    The leadership is refusing to consider broader reforms such as legalizing the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country out of fear it would jeopardize moderate Democrats in swing districts. Though Republicans have failed so far to make immigration a wedge issue in their presidential primaries and recent special elections, Democrats are using the hearings to stall conservatives’ border enforcement bills.
    Hispanic Caucus members faulted Democratic leaders for considering only measures that would benefit special interests, such as those needing seasonal worker visas for the summer, or high-tech industries that hire highly skilled employees.
    Democratic leaders are “spineless” for not debating comprehensive immigration reform, said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
    Top Democrats “want to have, on one side, the support of Hispanics. But on the other hand, they don’t want to spend one cent of political capital” to look out for them, added Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.).
    In the media, the Lou Dobbses of the world “say that we bring disease and crime to our country,” NCLR President Janet Murguia said recently. So when CBS aired its report, Murguia wondered, “Is no one above exploiting this issue?”
    And if CBS is playing to immigration hawks to boost its sagging ratings, the network risks being tuned out by the expanding Latino community. Advertisers know that by 2011, Hispanic buying power will total $1.2 trillion, almost 10 percent of all U.S. purchasing power.
    “We are not going to be the victims of anti-immigrant reporting, and we are not going to sit by as the community is demonized,” said Peter Zamora, a MALDEF attorney.
    That is the message Latinos are delivering to CBS, with the expectation that balanced reporting on Hispanics and immigrants will be the standard long after Couric’s name is removed from the evening newscast.
    Gebe Martinez is a longtime journalist in Washington and a frequent lecturer and commentator on the policy and politics of Capitol Hill.

  • Frank
    June 17, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    mayan, where is your proof of what you are implying that people were drugged by an unlicensed medical person or that there wasn’t collaberation by a psychiatrist who agreed to drug treatment for any of the detainess? I would want unrefutible evidence that any “abuse” occured before I could pass judgement.
    I am sure there still is some discrimination of people of color going on in this country but an isoled incident here and there does not make it a tidal wave of discrimination. I would like it all to disappear but let’s be realistic here we can’t control everyone. Let’s just not make the mistake of making blanket accusation across the board about discrimination.
    Illegal alien is our government term for those in our country without papers. I don’t know why anyone would be offended by it unless they have an agenda. Illegal = being against the law. Alien = a foreigner. Sorry, but I am not going to be PC. I will use our legal government term. Take it up with our government if you don’t like the term.
    How would ICE know the nationality of the illegals they catch in their raids. At Agriprocessors it was mostly Guatamalans that were caught. But the fact remains that Mexicans make up 60% of the illegals here and Latinos of other nationalities make up 20% of the illegals here.
    Sorry, but I disagree, our government should be allowed to continue to enforce our immigration laws internally. We are a soveriegn nation and it is our right. Our govennment is sworn to protect it’s citizens from an illegal invasion. They failed their duty at our borders so now internal enforcement is necessary to clean up this mess they created. Sorry again, but Mexico has been no friend of ours for some time now. If they were they would be discouraging their citizens from violating our borders and they would be doing something to help their own citizen’s stay at home and create jobs for them. As long as we continue down this road, Mexico will never clean up it’s act. I am sorry again, but I have no sympathy for these immigration violaters. They chose to do what they did and now they cry foul about the seperation of families,etc. when they created their situation themselves. No one cries for an American citizen who has broken a law and has to go to jail and have his family seperated from them. These Mexican and other illegal can take their families back home with them at least. By the way, when the raids were conducted at Agriprocessors those women/men who had dependant children at home with no one else to care for them were released to care for them. As far as ICE goes from what I understand they don’t need a warrant to enforce immigration law.
    You are incorrect if you think that the greedy employers pass cheaper prices on to us as the result of hiring cheap illegal labor. They are only padding their own wallets. But even it they did, the consumer has no way of knowing who is employing illegal aliens and who is not. I want to see the employers punished also. If convicted I would like them to go to prison, throw away the key and fined the hell out of them. ALL guilty parties should pay.
    In “conclusion” if my family and/or friends were hauled down to the police station for questioning about a crime. First, I would think they have probable cause to do this and second if myself and my family/friends had nothing to hide, I wouldn’t sweat it. Investigations, questioning and arrests is what law enforcement does to solve crimes. I really wouldn’t “feel” anything. I would be happy to cooperate with law enforement to help them solve a crime.

  • mayanmx
    June 18, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Agreed. Abuse should be investigated to determine whether or not there were trained medical and interpreting professionals involved. Me personally, I do put weight on what a U.S. Senator says as his statements are made on the record, and for gosh sakes, I do trust our democratically elected senators to provide accurate statistics and facts on the floor, particularly now with all the lying that was occurring.
    Illegal alien is not a government term that I know. Alien of course appears extremely out of place. I do think you’d have to say this goes beyond being PC when the term is deemed offensive to a whole cultural group. I don’t mean undocumented people, I mean American citizens of “Latino” descent. We have a right to say hey, that is offensive, we vote, we pay taxes, we participate as civic participants, and that term is offensive. Undocumented I believe is the legal term.
    Anyone else know the history of this term?
    Again, its respect. What if we determined officially to call all anglo people “crackers,” which I just recently learned its meaning in the context we are discussing. Might not be PC, should we encourage people on a federal level to adopt unPC words or would you expect the federal government to set an example with its own wording?
    Again, we are not talking about the U.S.’s right to enforce the law given the current situation, it has the right, sure. I have made this argument before, but given the adoption of the practice of hiring undocumented on such a large scale, does this therefore not become custom and therefore, effectively legal to the extent that the law is no longer reflective of reality? I mean, that is a legal defense, on the books, real.
    I guess we have a difference: I don’t think anyone should be “punished” – I am just for a totally different approach. I think the system grew out of global models of investment and shifts in global economics. The U.S., like Mexico, and sooo many other countries are now facing the impact, the outcome. To blame the actors in the play is so wrong in my opinion. I don’t think people are bad, needing punishment.
    I believe people are good, and need understanding, acceptance, love and support to grow into the type of beings who can truly make the most of a democracy.
    I think it can be helpful for you to know that many people of color do not feel as you do. Right or wrong, many people’s experiences have not been your own. They have experienced being treated unfairly, investigated unjustly, and jailed without cause. Look at all the coverage of DNA cases proving innocence and the lack of color blindness in the system. There has to be room for this reality, for how people of color feel, as opposed to how we want and wish things to be in the future.
    I don’t believe acknowledging areas that we need, as a country, to work on is going to bring us down. I believe that we can grasp that uniquely spirit that resides here in these lands and create something different. I am so tired of all the fighting, all the constant battles, I just wish we could all find a way to get along.

  • Frank
    June 18, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I doubt that Senator Menendez would be so worked up over this if the majority of illegals in this country were Chinese rather than Latinos. I will let it rest at that and let the invesigative facts speak for themselves.
    I still fail to understand why the term “illegal aliens” seems to be offensive to only Latinos even those who are citizens. What has it to do with legal Latino citizens anyway? The word “illegal” is a word in the English language that denotes something not done within our laws. “Alien” simply means foreigner. “Crackers would equate to the “N” word or the word “Wetb@ack.” I can understand the offensiveness of those words because they are racially motivated. Illegal aliens are about anyone in this country illegally, not just one race. If the term “illegal alien” is what our government calls them then I will do likewise. I don’t understand why a whole cultural groups objects. It has nothing to do with Latino culture.
    It is greedy American employers who have been hiring illegal aliens without the approval of the rest of law abiding Americans. So no, there is no excuse for this on the part of the employer or the illegal. It is against our laws. It can’t continue, can’t be rewarded or overlooked. We have to get back to a legal, orderly immigration.
    I agree that discrimination of citizens of color shouldn’t be acceptable and it needs to be worked on where there are abuses of this. But it appears that some people of color want to hold a grudge against all white people forever for the sins of the past even though they weren’t even alive back then. That has got to stop also.

  • mayanmx
    June 19, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Hi Frank,
    I suppose this will be the last post, having worked down through some of this material.
    I think the facts do speak for themselves, the majority of the immigrants overall are of Latino origin, of that group, the majority are Mexican. So, his defense of immigrants, both citizens and non, doesn’t make him more protective over one group over the other. I’m just not sure why you doubt his motives, I mean, he is seeking to protect American citizens.
    Illegal Alien is not wetback but is similar and brings up an old history. Please read up a little on how the immigrant and Latino communities feel about that term. I just feel like if the people its applied to find it offensive, why continue to use it? Isn’t that how crackers and wetbacks were transformed? Undocumented is appropriate in that it denotes the person as someone without papers, but not an alien (of course, you will recognize that alien has several meanings?) or illegal as a person can’t be illegal per se.
    See, I don’t think business is bad, first of all, business is inanimate and can’t have motive. The people who did the hiring were part of a larger global shift that happened and was, overall, promoted as positive, that the global village was going to make possible so much. Abuse of workers that lead to death or harm is one thing, paying lower wages is another abuse within a larger system. It was an international, economic, social and cultural experiment, that the experiment is challenging today does not make the players bad.
    I don’t know that there has ever been legal, orderly immigration as it relates to our southern neighbors. After all, border crossings weren’t even registered until 1905, and then it appears we have gone through waves of the very same thing happening today: first the use of the labor, and then the anger and retribution. This type of approach happened to other historical immigrant groups, not new or unique to Latino people. This flow and ebb seems to be tied to our internal economy. What is legal, orderly immigration these days? Anywhere in the world? The challenges facing us are facing the European Union, Asian nations.
    Let’s create legal, orderly immigration, but not claim we had it in the past.
    I hear you about holding the grudge. Like I said before, I think that the road goes both directions, neither resentment is healthy. I just believe talking about the wounds can lead to healing. Not obsessive talk but real facts talk. Sadly, the world envisioned of color blindness is not upon us, there is much work yet to be done. Is this the place to do it? Absolutely, this country is magical in its ability to transform. Let’s go for color blind by recognizing, without blame, where we still have work to do.
    I think bipartisan efforts to address these areas is the spirit that made me, as a child, read the history books and say, the past is the past, I live a different reality.
    I realize the childish vision I had doesn’t match today’s reality, but I never lost my hope inspired by people who were willing to stand up for freedom and justice for all, whatever their skin color, race, or religion.
    Thanks for the conversation. Have a great weekend.

  • Frank
    June 19, 2008 at 9:46 am

    mayan, I have aleady addressed all of your points in my prior post. I don’t really wish to repeat them again. We will just have to agree to disagree. Again, I appreciate your civil discourse as it is so refreshing.
    You have a great weekend likewise!

  • Evelyn
    June 19, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Some Detainees Are Drugged For Deportation
    Immigrants Sedated Without Medical Reason
    by Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest | Washington Post Staff Writers
    May 14, 2008
    The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.
    The government’s forced use of antipsychotic drugs, in people who have no history of mental illness, includes dozens of cases in which the “pre-flight cocktail,” as a document calls it, had such a potent effect that federal guards needed a wheelchair to move the slumped deportee onto an airplane.
    “Unsteady gait. Fell onto tarmac,” says a medical note on the deportation of a 38-year-old woman to Costa Rica in late spring 2005. Another detainee was “dragged down the aisle in handcuffs, semi-comatose,” according to an airline crew member’s written account. Repeatedly, documents describe immigration guards “taking down” a reluctant deportee to be tranquilized before heading to an airport.
    In a Chicago holding cell early one evening in February 2006, five guards piled on top of a 49-year-old man who was angry he was going back to Ecuador, according to a nurse’s account in his deportation file. As they pinned him down so the nurse could punch a needle through his coveralls into his right buttock, one officer stood over him menacingly and taunted, “Nighty-night.”
    The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003 — the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security’s new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.
    Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.
    Federal officials have seldom acknowledged publicly that they sedate people for deportation. The few times officials have spoken of the practice, they have understated it, portraying sedation as rare and “an act of last resort.” Neither is true, records and interviews indicate.
    Records show that the government has routinely ignored its own rules, which allow deportees to be sedated only if they have a mental illness requiring the drugs, or if they are so aggressive that they imperil themselves or people around them.
    Stung by lawsuits over two sedation cases, the agency changed its policy in June to require a court order before drugging any deportee for behavioral rather than psychiatric reasons. In at least one instance identified by The Post, the agency appears not to have followed those rules.
    In the five years since its creation, ICE has stepped up arrests and removals of foreigners who are in the country illegally, have been turned down for asylum or have been convicted of a crime in the past.
    If the government wants a detainee to be sedated, a deportation officer asks for permission for a medical escort from the aviation medicine branch of the Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS), the agency responsible for medical care for people in immigration custody. A mental health official in aviation medicine is supposed to assess the detainee’s medical records, although some deportees’ records contain no evidence of that happening. If the sedatives are approved, a U.S. public health nurse is assigned as the medical escort and given prescriptions for the drugs.
    After injecting the sedatives, the nurse travels with the deportee and immigration guards to their destination, usually giving more doses along the way. To recruit medical escorts, the government has sought to glamorize this work. “Do you ever dream of escaping to exotic, exciting locations?” said an item in an agency newsletter. “Want to get away from the office but are strapped for cash? Make your dreams come true by signing up as a Medical Escort for DIHS!”
    The nurses are required to fill out step-by-step medical logs for each trip. Hundreds of logs for the past five years, obtained by The Post, chronicle in vivid detail deviations from the government’s sedation rules.
    An analysis by The Post of the known sedations during fiscal 2007, ending last October, found that 67 people who got medical escorts had no documented psychiatric reason. Of the 67, psychiatric drugs were given to 53, 48 of whom had no documented history of violence, though some had managed to thwart an earlier attempt to deport them. These figures do not include two detainees who immigration officials said were given sedatives for behavioral rather than psychiatric reasons before being deported on group charter flights, which are often used to return people to Mexico and Central America.
    Even some people who had been violent in the past proved peaceful the day they were sent home. “Dt calm at this time,” says the first entry, using shorthand for “detainee,” in the log for the January 2007 deportation of Yousif Nageib to his native Sudan. In requesting drugs for his deportation, an immigration officer had noted that Nageib, 40, had once fled to Canada to avoid an assault charge and had helped instigate a detainee uprising while in custody. But on the morning of his departure, the log says, he “is handcuffed and states he will do what we say.” Still, he was injected in his right buttock with a three-drug cocktail.
    In one printout of Nageib’s medical log, next to the entry saying he was calm, is a handwritten asterisk. It was put there by Timothy T. Shack, then medical director of the immigration health division, as he reviewed last year’s sedation cases. Next to the asterisk, in his neat, looping handwriting, Shack placed a single word: “Problem.”

  • mayanmx
    June 20, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you for posting this information. The more I read, the more disturbing the facts become about what is happening. Journalists digging deeper are the only way we can ever know more, and people like you sharing is how we can become aware of what is happening.
    I am saddened to read of these people being drugged, and just wonder, what will these people remember when they sit at home without work, facing rising food and fuel prices, and think back to here?
    I read about investors investing in commodity markets and wonder, how can we allow this when we see what is happening to the cost of basic food items? Are we responsible for economic development in every country? No, but we are responsible for allowing speculation and short term investments that play games with the lives of people across the world.
    I wish we could stand down and get out of attack mode, acting as if people have something against us. Drugging people to get them out of the country? Having lived and worked outside the country before the world changed, I remember often being questioned about policies of my country that affected their country. It gave me a perspective, to see both hands working, and how too often, we don’t see the impact of what we do. So much of this stuff just doesn’t make any sense.
    What’s the point in investing in food, driving up prices on speculation, causing more hunger, poverty around the world, forcing people to uproot, disrupt and leave their families and communities in a march toward the factory of our existence?
    Pues, its daunting. And I am a strong person, but its just daunting.
    Thanks again, and have a good weekend…

  • Evelyn
    June 22, 2008 at 5:20 am

    I hear you mayanmx. My Pleasure!

Comments are closed.