Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gitmo and Gulags in Our Backyard

I remember, back before 9/11 and the Bush Administration, I used to take my citizenship for granted. "I am an American. I am confident in my rights, and you can't touch me!" That was always my feeling. Not any more. We have written several times on this blog about human rights violations of this Administration and their complete disregard for the U.S. Constitution. But it has always been a little bit abstract for me until this week.

I recently picked up my Washington Post Weekly and saw 5 pages on how badly deportees are treated by homeland security and the scales fell from my eyes. It is a human rights scandal, Gitmo on our own shores. And if they can do it to them, they can do it to us. That is what the ironically named PATRIOT act allows for. Let me just give you a quick list of the Kafkaesque situation.

1. Detainees are moved around from holding facility to holding facility often without reason and often across state lines and in obscure places where families and attorneys can't reach them.
2. Holding facilities are owned and operated often by corporate contractors. The system is a mix of private detention centers, county jails, and other types of prisons where there is room.Many of these facilities do not have excercise yards and detainees do not have access to the outdoors. They are gulags.
3. Detainees often do not receive needed medical care. And their medical files while in detention are often falsified or filled with errors. The Post dug into the medical records of some 83 people who have died in custody due to untreated medical problems.
4. Increased suicides while in custody.
5. Detainees are being unnecessarily drugged with strong doses of multiple anti-psychotics for the trips home. They are given multiple boosters in route and often dragged across tarmacs and through plane aisles because they are so incapacitated.
6. Detainees are often held for years without seeing their cases progress.
7. Detainees have often lived in the US for many years and are married to US citizens, yet they are deported before the legal system can address their cases or while their cases are still pending in court.
8. Detainees are being picked up on old, minor charges which many already served their time in jail for or for which the statute of limitations has long expired.

I understand that constitutional rights and protections are, strictly speaking, reserved for US citizens. However, in the past, this country has always extended those protections to immigrants on our soil because it is a question of human rights. As contributors and signatories to human rights treaties and declarations, we have a legal, if not moral obligation to see to that people are treated humanely, justly, and rightly.

The Washington post has run an incredible 4 day series on the treatment of illegal immigrants by the Department of Homeland security. I encourage you to to read through some of the articles.

This will become a major issue. Last week Congress opened hearings on the in humane treatment of deportees.

This is the type of fundamental issue that I want to hear Obama and McCain address.


Anonymous said...

I think you are on the right track on what you want to hear addressed by the candidates...I think what you described, the Iraq war, the mortgage crisis, gas prices...all of it...are symptoms of what is really wrong and what needs to be talked about...the problem is our government. We live in a mild dictatorship...can you smell the bananas? This country is controlled by criminals and the criminal element runs very deep in every area and segment of our current administration and everyone is involved at some level because no one is doing anything about it. When did it become okay to out CIA filed operatives? That use to be high treason. telling all of the WMD lies to us and the UN...why is that okay? I really don't understand it. Of the 10 Bill of Rights, we only have one left!

Raised By Republicans said...

A friend of the blog was a Federal Defense attorney in a border city for years. She said that under Ashcroft, federal prosecutors were pressured to "throw the book" at immigration defendents. She also talked about how they were ignoring judges' instructions and daring the judges to take them on, claiming "homeland security" as justification. She said this was a huge departure from normal behavior in the courts.

And leaving aside the obvious human rights and legal problems with the current practices of our government, it costs a huge amount of money to treat people this badly. It would be much cheaper to simply deport them. But to hold them in rotating facilities, drug them and prevent them from meeting supporters and lawyers is not only spiteful and probably unconstitutional, it's a waste of money!

The Law Talking Guy said...

I don't think it will feature much in the campaign. Obama doesn't want to be seen as "too soft," so he doesn't feel like talking about being nicer to terrorist suspects. Also, talking about Gitmo allows McCain to trot out his torture stories again - his best selling point - and Dems don't like that. So from a practical standpoint, it's a loser for Dems. Best to talk about Afghanistan and Iraq.

USwest said...

These people are not terror suspects. Many do not have the proper paperwork to be in the United States. We are now treating these people like terror suspects, and that is in part where the problem is.

What has to be addressed is how you fix what is a broken and corrupt system. In fact, you can start by talking directly about how American inmates are treated in our jails because it isn't much different from how these immigrants are treated. It is about respect for the law and constitutional protections. That is what is at the heart of the issue, as RBR pointed out. YOu can address that without sounding soft on anything!

History Buff said...

Immigrants have become the New Jews. They have become the scape goats for bad economies. They are being attacked in South Africa, the Nazis have reared their ugly heads in Europe by going after them and in Iowa they have been charged with felonies and thrown in Federal Prison.

People always need a scape goat to blame their problems on. It happened with the witch hunts in the middle ages, the Jews have been blamed for all kinds of ills for centuries until the holocaust happened and liberals were attacked during the communist scare in the '50s.

I think probably the best way to change this situation will be to shed light on the plight of the immigrant and the way of life they are trying to escape in their home countries. If people can sympathize with the immigrant they will be much more apt to change policy for the better.