Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Political Science of Love and Hate

That's the title of the paper I'm about to give at the American Political Science meetings in Chicago. Leaving for the airport shortly but if you're interested in my day job, here you go: "The Political Science of Love and Hate."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

DePaul University Violates Honor Code

I've been posting less this week, trying to tie up those loose ends before Labor Day, and preparing for the American Political Science Association meetings that begin tomorrow in Chicago. But events unfolding in that vicinity do not inspire much enthusiasm. One of my colleagues was about to start teaching a political science course at DePaul University, when the administration without warning canceled his class.

Norman Finkelstein, the guy whom DePaul University turned down for tenure because Alan Dershowitz and some of his powerful friends insisted on it, has had insult added to injury. A few days ago, the administration decided not to give him the traditional, and contractual, grace year afforded those denied tenure and at the last minute canceled his fall classes. Here's what the Chicago Tribune had to say about this:
The required reading was at the bookstore, the students had the course syllabus, and space in Political Science 235, "Equality in Social Justice," was standing-room only when DePaul University pulled the plug Friday on what was to have been Norman Finkelstein's final year at the school.

A controversial scholar -- accused by critics of fomenting anti-Semitism and lauded by supporters as a forthright critic of Israel -- Finkelstein attracted wide attention across the academic world when he was denied tenure in the spring.

By Monday, the books for his course had been pulled from the DePaul bookstore's shelves, while his case was restarting a firestorm of protest. The American Association of University Professors was preparing a letter to the university, protesting Finkelstein's treatment as a serious violation of academic ethics.

Finkelstein vowed not to take the rebuff lying down -- or, perhaps more correctly, to do something just like that. In addition to canceling his course, the university informed him that his office was no longer his.

"I intend to go to my office on the first day of classes and, if my way is barred, to engage in civil disobedience," Finkelstein, 53, said in a telephone interview. "If arrested, I'll go on a hunger strike. If released, I'll do it all over again. I'll fast in jail for as long as it takes."

Fall classes start Sept. 5 at DePaul, where Finkelstein has been a faculty member for six years. During that time, his star has risen and fallen at the Catholic school, founded by the Vincentian order.

His books brought him far-reaching renown. They also were condemned for their provocative language, as in the "The Holocaust Industry," where he called efforts to get compensation from Germany for World War II slave laborers a "shakedown." Finkelstein, himself Jewish, has described leaders of American-Jewish organizations as "Holocaust-mongers."

He has engaged in a long-running feud with Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, a strong supporter of Israel. He has charged Dershowitz with appropriating other scholars' findings; Dershowitz was similarly skeptical of the legitimacy of Finkelstein's work when asked by DePaul to comment on his application for tenure, the academic equivalent of a lifetime job guarantee.

Nonetheless, Finkelstein's work has been praised by ivory-tower luminaries such as the distinguished linguist Noam Chomsky and the late Raul Hilberg, dean of Holocaust historians. Finkelstein's supporters are planning a lecture-rally for him in October in Chicago.

Two years ago, Finkelstein was held up as an example of DePaul's commitment to freedom of inquiry by its president, Dennis Holtschneider.

Students have held Finkelstein in high regard, reporting that his tone in the classroom is measured, quite unlike the red-hot rhetoric of his books.

This year, though, Dean Chuck Suchar found Finkelstein's scholarship inconsistent with "DePaul's Vincentian values," among them respect for others' views. Holtschneider seconded that motion in refusing Finkelstein's tenure.

Student support continues

DePaul officials declined to comment on the case. Denise Mattson, associate vice president for public affairs, said: "Finkelstein has been assigned to an administrative leave with full pay and benefits for the 2007-08 academic year. Administrative leave relieves professors from their teaching responsibilities. He was informed of the reasons that precipitated this leave last spring."

He was denied tenure in June, but officials could offer no explanation for why his courses were left in the schedule.

On Friday, Andrew Riplinger, a DePaul student registered for Finkelstein's course, received an e-mail from him.

"Professor Finkelstein wrote that if the course was canceled by the university, it would be taught at another location," said Riplinger. "Then the university sent an e-mail announcing the course had been canceled."

Riplinger and other student supporters, fearing such an action, have been meeting regularly over the summer and communicating their uneasiness to the administration. Their committee was scheduled to meet Monday evening in the DePaul student center, Riplinger said.

Final year at school threatened

According to the norms of academia, a professor denied tenure has the right to a final year of teaching at the university that turns him down. The watchdog of those rights is the American Association of University Professors, the umbrella organization of college teachers, which can censure a school found in violation of its ground rules. Such a finding also can be the preliminary to a lawsuit against the university by the faculty member.

According to Jonathan Knight, director of the AAUP's program in academic freedom and tenure, a university owes a faculty member denied tenure more than just a year's salary. He or she has the right to a classroom (and presumably an office). A university can't simply buy him or her out by invoking administrative leave, Knight said.

He added that a faculty member can't be put on administrative leave without a hearing except in an extreme emergency.

"We're not aware of an emergency requiring DePaul to take such action at the 11th hour and 59th minute," Knight said.

Finkelstein said that, rather than filing a lawsuit, he intends to fight the university's action with a hunger strike, and the attendant publicity.

"In the court of public opinion, I can win," Finkelstein said. "I say: 'Let the people judge.'"

Let's hope the court of political scientists and scholars also weighs in on this as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Bible on the Immigration Debate about Elvira Arellano

The L.A. Times set up a forum next to its article about Elvira Arellano's deportation from Los Angeles on Sunday, August 19, 2007. (Arelleno had spent a year in a Chicago church, which gave her and her son, a U.S. citizen, sanctuary. For details, you can read the Times article.)

The comments next to the article make Lou Dobbs sound like Jesse Jackson. Here are the most recent ten postings, along with some brief replies.
1. She`s no activist... She`s a convicted illegal alien who was ordered deported, and hid behind the cross and her anchor baby for her own selfishness!
Submitted by: T
8:57 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Exodus 22:21

2. Cannot get a post in. Typical l.a.times editing to do anything to support illegal immigration.
Submitted by: Ru
8:55 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: This one speaks for itself.

3. We used to live next door to coyotes who lodged the illegals when they first came into the country. Our house was broken into several times, there was always trash and diapers in the streets. Why should we put up with that when poor Americans are already capable of trashing their own neighborhoods?
Submitted by: sick and tired
8:55 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 19:34. "sick and tired" makes this point as well: Punish people for what they do; treat them as you would those born here, and not differently because of who they are or where they are from.

4. 1. Anchor babies ineligible within the last 5 years 2. The hiring of illegal immigrants subject to heavy fines Prosecute and deport MS13 members housing them in mexican jails or cuban.
Submitted by: options
8:55 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding." 1 Chronicles 29:15. To whom did God give the United States? Certainly not the author of the posting above, who, like David addressing God, is passing through the world and has no true claim to any of it.

5. I suggest illegal aliens read Mexico's constitution. Perhaps then they would understand that they cannot have it all there and here too.
Submitted by: Ru
8:48 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "The punishments did not come upon the sinners
without prior signs in the violence of thunder,
for they justly suffered because of their wicked acts;
for they practiced a more bitter hatred of strangers." Solomon 19:13.

6. She and her support team expended a lot of energy defying our laws. Did any one of them think about making her legal? Probably not ... no profit in doing it that way. If I'm right, she's out for 20 yrs on her 2nd deportation. Any wagers on how soon she'll try to slip across the border?
Submitted by: T.G.
8:46 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "Others had refused to receive strangers when they came to them,
but these made slaves of guests who were their benefactors." Solomon 19:14

7. Finally the U.S. Gov. has done something to give the americam people a little hope that we will get our country back from illegal aliens.
Submitted by: Ru
8:46 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "And not only so, but punishment of some sort
will come upon the former for their hostile reception of the aliens; but the latter, after receiving them with festal celebrations, afflicted with terrible sufferings
those who had already shared the same rights." Solomon 19: 15-16.

8. She should have done time for that stunt in Chicago, then got deported, keep coddling these criminals and they keep coming back.
Submitted by: Paul
8:44 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: " Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body." Hebrew 13: 1-3

9. Elvira needs to put her energy into changing her country. She was a felon many times over and if she did in her country what she did in ours she would have been "handled" years ago. All the illegal aliens in America should learn the immigration laws for Mexico by heart. It would serve them well.
Submitted by: CJ
8:40 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers." 3 John 5.

10. criminals are criminals thats why we do not like illegals.other countries break their laws on immigration you go to prison. here the democrats treat them like royalty for votes. on the backs of tax payers.
Submitted by: bsl7678
8:39 AM PDT, August 21, 2007

JS: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'" Matthew 25: 31-36. The passage refers to Jesus separating nations not by ancestry but deeds. The ones blessed are the ones that shelter strangers and care for prisoners.

I quote and discuss these passages to show the hypocrisy of a so-called Christian country led by a self-declared born-again Christian, and not because these sentiments are unique to the Bible. Absent the promise of heaven to those who abide by these norms, they are the beliefs of numerous organizations and people worldwide, including atheist critics of nationalism such as this author.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Israel Violates International Law and Moral Decency, Refusing Targets of Genocide

Sudanese refugee held in an Israeli jail because he is a national of a country Israel regards as an enemy.

One of the reasons that Adolf Eichmann gave for the "final solution" being genocide was that Jews could not be removed from Germany in any other way, since no other country would take them in sufficient numbers, including the United States. (See Hanna Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem [1963].)

In recognition of the impediments national borders pose to victims of state violence -- serving as armed guards for the perpetrators -- the United Nations passed a resolution affirming that signatories would allow all those presenting themselves as refugees due to state persecution entry into their countries and hearings to determine the legitimacy of these claims.

In yet the latest expression of its hypocrisy, symptomatic of the untenability of the international system of nation-states more generally, Israel has just turned away thousands of refugees from Darfur, without mandated hearings and in violation of their commitments under international law. Here's some of what the Washington Post reported today.
Authorities announced that they had expelled 48 of more than 2,000 African refugees who have entered illegally from Egypt in recent weeks. Officials said they would allow 500 Darfurians among them to remain, but would deport everyone else back to Egypt and accept no more illegal migrants from Darfur or other places ....

Egyptian police told the Associated Press, however, that Egypt would send the Sudanese back to Sudan. An Egyptian Foreign Ministry official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel had sought no assurances about the future of the refugees. "Israel just said, 'Please take them,' " the Egyptian official said.

Refugees from Darfur are escaping what President Bush and others have called genocide by government-allied Arab militias against ethnic African villagers. In addition, Sudan and Israel officially are enemies, and Sudan's government has said any refugees sent back from Israel would be considered as having dealt with an enemy state and treated accordingly....

srael apparently expelled them without hearings, in contravention of a refugee accord it has signed that requires countries to determine whether deportation will subject asylum-seekers to mistreatment, said Ben-Dor, the Israeli refugee lawyer.

More than half the members of Israel's parliament, including opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, signed a petition earlier this month urging Israel not to send the refugees back to Egypt....

"The expulsion is an inhumane act that violates international law," said lawmaker Dov Khenin of the Hadash party, according to the Haaretz newspaper Web site.

If even Israel cannot abide by the only meager protection available to those facing slaughter by their states, i.e., allowing them a place of sanctuary, then this seems rather damning evidence that the nation-state is a failure and it might be time to try new rules for controlling movement and membership.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Israel Lobby

The image is from a website for fake PhDs, which have the same value these days as the ones from Ivy League universities, or so it seems to the folks messing around with the free speech and exchange of ideas at elite academic institutions.

Over the last couple of years two very prominent political scientists, John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, teaching in two of the most reputable universities in the world (University of Chicago and Harvard University) have been promoting a paper and now a book (The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy) pointing out the discrepancy between U.S. strategic interests and support for Israel.

Mearsheimer and Walt argue that the only reason that the U.S. has given huge amounts of military and foreign aid to Israel has been the political and economic clout of Israel's domestic lobbying interests, namely U.S. citizens who are zealots on this cause. Ironically, proof of their argument is that their own book tour is being interfered with by Zionists who apparently made statements that rattled a variety of potential venues, including the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that had committed to and then canceled their talk. According to the New York Times:
The subject will certainly prompt furious debate, though not at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Jewish cultural center in Washington and three organizations in Chicago. They have all turned down or canceled events with the authors, mentioning unease with the controversy or the format.

The authors were particularly disturbed by the Chicago council’s decision, since plans for that event were complete and both authors have frequently spoken there before. The two sent a four-page letter to 94 members of the council’s board detailing what happened. “On July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was canceling the event,” and that his decision “was based on the need ‘to protect the institution.’ He said that he had a serious ‘political problem,’ because there were individuals who would be angry if he gave us a venue to speak, and that this would have serious negative consequences for the council. ‘This one is so hot,’ Marshall maintained.”

Mr. Mearsheimer later said of Mr. Bouton, “I had the sense that this phone call pained him deeply.”

Mr. Bouton was out of town, but Rachel Bronson, vice president for programs and studies at the council, said, “Whenever we have topics that are particularly controversial or sensitive, we try to make sure someone from another point of view is there.” In this case, she said, there was not sufficient time to set up that sort of panel before the council calendar went out. There are no plans to have the authors speak at a later date, however.

Two months ago Norman Finkelstein--another Israel lobby critic who has debunked work by Alan Dershowitz and written a terrific, incisive, and well-documented book The Holocaust Industry, about the intellectual, political history of "the Holocaust"--was denied tenure at De Paul University even though his department had unanimously supported him. As bad as this is, even more bizarre are the efforts underway by a former Barnard alum whose firm does technical writing for Israeli firms to hold up the tenure of Dr. Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropology professor at Barnard College. The online petition has over 1,000 signatures, supposedly from Barnard alumnae, though a brief scan suggests that at least half of them are from men, which is fitting for an enterprise placing such a low value on integrity.

The concerns are supposedly directed to a book published by the University of Chicago Press in 2001, but since the woman who authored the petition is in no position to second-guess the faculty who peer-reviewed the book at the University of Chicago Press, it appears that Paula Stern, the petition's author, is acting on the old-fashioned value of narrow-minded bigotry. Since it now seems that tenure is being determined by petition, feel free to sign one supporting Dr. Nadia Abu El-Haj here.

One thing I never understood: why do conservatives point to the large numbers of progressives in academia and complain about bias, rather than scratch their heads and ponder the consequences of the general population's poor education, contemplating the possibility that they might be dead wrong through ignorance. If experts trained in the best universities in the world hold views that are more open, cosmopolitan, egalitarian, and tolerant than the views held by everyone else, doesn't that suggest these scholars might be onto something? We don't look at the general public's opinion on physics and, since no one there can explain why e=mc2, say that Einstein was biased in favor of relativity, so why is it cause for censure if people in universities, professors, no less, have knowledge on other matters about which the general public also is uneducated?

During the first Gulf War, in 1992, Professor Kirin Chaudhry, in the Political Science Department at UC Berkeley (when I was a grad student) was on a local news show asked if she thought the U.S. invasion was a good idea. She said no. The local anchor's eyebrows shot up, "You realize you are disagreeing with 85% of the rest of the country?" he said. I'll never forget Dr. Chaudhry's reply. She looked him straight in the eyes and very calmly replied, "That's because they're poorly informed by news programs such as yours."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

At Least 62 Die in ICE Custody Since 2004

Three of those deaths have been in the last month, and the ACLU National Prison Project has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of detainees held in dangerous conditions. Of the three recent deaths, two were being deported and one, a woman seven months pregnant, was a legal resident.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) houses on average 19,400 inmates day, about the same population as the number of those enrolled at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where fewer than five people died last year. If the average number of annual deaths at UCSB were the same as those for the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, then that would mean about 20 students annually would die, which is probably an understatement since the data come from ICE and if they are not conscientious enough to respond to life-and-death situations with a pregnant woman for whom they are responsible, then there is no reason to think they are diligent in their record-keeping of such negligence.

According to today's article in the Washington Post:
The dead were a pregnant Mexican woman who lost consciousness at a facility in El Paso, a Mexican AIDS patient whose condition steadily deteriorated in a San Pedro, Calif., prison and a Brazilian whose family implored authorities to give him medicine for his epileptic seizures in Rhode Island, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and published reports.

By the way, someone I know had a friend in detention who also was denied his AIDS medication after a late-night ICE raid of an AMTRAK train near Buffalo.

The Post story continues:
With the exception of the pregnant woman, Rosa Isela Contreras-Dominguez, 38, those who died were illegal immigrants being processed for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a Department of Homeland Security division known as ICE. The two others were identified as Edmar Alves Araujo, 34, of Brazil and Victoria Arellano, 23, of Mexico....

"We've been saying for a long time now that we have serious concerns about the medical care provided to individuals in detention," said Tom Jawetz, a staff lawyer for the ACLU's National Prison Project.

"It's been a closed system for far too long. People are going to continue to die unless changes are made," Jawetz said.

Arellano, a transgender person whose given name was Victor, was the first to die, on July 20. She was detained in May for entering the country illegally for a second time.

During detention in San Pedro, attorneys said, her AIDS treatment lapsed. As she vomited blood, fellow inmates cared for her in vain. She was eventually taken to a San Pedro hospital and died while shackled to a bed, an attorney for the family said.

Contreras, a legal resident from Juarez, Mexico, died about a week after entering ICE custody in El Paso on Aug. 1. She was seized for deportation after serving an 18-month prison sentence for bringing 65 pounds of marijuana into the United States.

Raimondi said Contreras, who was seven weeks pregnant, was taken to an emergency room immediately after notifying the medical staff that she suffered from blood clotting. Later, after complaining of pain in her leg, she was taken to a hospital, where she died.

Araujo died shortly after being taken into federal custody on Aug. 7. His sister, Irene, said she tried to give his medication for seizures to Woonsocket, R.I., police who detained him for a traffic violation but they refused to accept it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Memorandum of Understanding in Action: How L.A. County Jails Screen for Criminal Aliens

I had a very enlightening conversation this morning with Sergent Lightle, who supervises the Classification program in the L.A. County jails. INS has had a Memorandum of Understanding allowing it to train and supervise L.A. County Sheriff employees to screen for undocumented aliens since 2005, although Sergent Lightle said that the INS has been in the jails since 1985.

In the period from January 31, 2006 to August 10, 2007, INS Custody Assistants had interviewed 13,598 inmates who were being released and issued holds on 7,391. These 7,391 could either agree to be removed to their country of origin or request a hearing to appeal this decision. Sergent Lightle did not know the total number of inmates released since January 31, 2006, but since at any given point there are 20,000 inmates, the number actually interviewed would seem to be a small fraction of the total number released.

The question raised by Pedro Guzman's case, a U.S. citizen by birth who was mistakenly deported, is how inmates are selected for these interviews. According to Sargent Lightle, there are three avenues that would lead to an interview. First, the inmate might have self-declared as an alien. An interview would examine whether he or she had legal documentation for residence in the United States. Second, an inmate's fingerprints might produce a match with the those of a known alien based on the FBI's Law Enforcement Fingerprint Database. Or third, and what must have happened with Pedro Guzman (who did not volunteer he was foreign-born before his interview), the Custody Assistant based on a perusal of the inmate's folder, can decide to interview the inmate.

"What in the folder might trigger an officer's interest?" I asked. Sargent Lightle said "whatever criteria they [the custody assistants] select." I wondered if there was a manual that might tell them what to look for. Sargent Lightle said she did not know of such a manual and said that the criteria would come from their training in immigration law by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE)(more on them later). Ethnic profiling is clearly one of the factors Figueras was considering when she decided to interview Guzman, but it couldn't be the only one. Most Latinos born in the United Stated are not selected by custody assistants for an interview.

Once identified for an interview, Sargent Lightle said, the Custody Assistant might request the inmate be held by INS if they "don't speak a word of English and can't answer questions that someone born in the United States could answer in Spanish." Sargent Lightle emphasized that for those who seem to be from Mexico, the whole interview would be done in Spanish." Of course there are many other reasons that someone might not be able to answer questions that most people born in the United States can answer, including mental disabilities. If the INS questions cannot distinguish between people who are mentally disabled (or simply poor civics students) and people who are non-citizens, and if these interviews are the basis for deportation, then this means that the INS may be guilty of kidnapping.

Sargent Lightle did clear up one question that I've been wondering about. As we all know from Paris Hilton's adventure, virtually no one receiving a sentence for time in the L.A. County jails serves the entire sentence. Instead the Sheriff has a number of criteria for early release. Was one of these being identified as an illegal alien? (And therefore, might inmates strategically misstate their nationality in order to be released early and then return to the United States, as has happened in at least one case?) It turns out the answer to this question for the L.A. County jails is no, meaning that Pedro Guzman had no incentive to lie about his country of origin.

One final question that Sargent Lightle was not able to answer: why was the order to hold Pedro Guzman sent to an inn in Colorado instead of the L.A. County Jails, where he was being held? She said that she was not allowed to comment on the Guzman case because of pending litigation, and that any orders for a hold would be the responsibility of the INS.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

L.A. County Jail Deputy Blames INS for Pedro Guzman's Deportation

Last week, before Pedro Guzman was allowed to enter his homeland, I called the L.A. County Jail to see if I could learn more about the procedures leading to a deportation.

All the legal filings from the government in response to the ACLU lawsuit refer to the screening procedures in the passive voice, i.e., "subject was encountered at L.A. County Jail by Custody Assistant Sandra Figueras as part of routine assigned duties to interview suspected criminal aliens" (from the June 13, 2007 Petitioner's Reply in Support of Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order). But there is no information as to the substance of these routine duties that would lead to such an encounter.

According to the ACLU, Pedro Guzman was singled out because of race. Either there are rules for profiling in place that the jail followed to initiate the interview with the INS that led to Guzman's confusion and deportation, or this occurred in an ad hoc fashion in violation of the jail rules. Which was it?

Before turning to the interview, a little background: In 2005 the Los Angeles County Jails entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Homeland Security, allowing it to train some of its deputies to assist as INS agents in screening and detaining criminal aliens for deportation from the county jail. Sandra Figueras was one of those employees.

The Deputy I spoke to was very forthcoming about the jail procedures, explaining that when inmates are booked they're asked to identify their birthplace. If it's outside the United States, then the jail contacts the INS for an interview to ascertain their legal status. However, it's clear from all the records that Guzman initially identified his birthplace as California, so there would be no reason for the jail to initiate Guzman's INS interview.

I pressed the deputy a bit, asking if they did any screening on their own to ascertain if arrestees lied about their birthplace. He told me that they protect against this through consulting earlier records when the "roll" the arrestees for fingerprints, but if there's nothing there, then they would never call the INS: "We don't do background checks. We just process inmates here. We don't waste our time on that; we don't intervene in any way, unless we see someone who says they're born outside the country."

I then asked if he was familiar with Guzman's deportation--again this was last week--and he was not, so I gave him a summary and asked how Guzman would have come to the attention of the INS. He told me that the INS agents in the jail do their own screenings and he didn't know how those worked. When I told him that Guzman definitely was born in the United States and his mother had the birth certificate to prove it, he said, "That would have been their foul up. The family should have had the opportunity to bring in a birth certificate and clear things up."

This is obviously true, and underlined by the fact that all of the Guzman's documents in his criminal record indicate that he was born in California. Indeed, if the judge who sentenced Guzman to 90 days in jail on April 19, 2007 had the slightest idea that Guzman would be deported as a criminal alien he would not also have sentenced Guzman to 3 years probation, and the state would not have issued a warrant for his arrest for missing the probation hearing, which, ironically, appears to be why the DHS finally allowed him back into the country. In other words, there was plenty of information available to any interested parties that would indicate Guzman's nationality.

In reflecting about the above confusion over the missed probation hearings--why wouldn't the L.A. Sheriff process the paperwork indicating Guzman had been deported, which would render the probation hearings moot?--it seems possible that the incorrectly addressed "Immigration Detainer--Notice of Action" issued by Sandra Figueras on April 26 could be the culprit. Perhaps absent this piece of paperwork, inexplicably addressed to an inn in Colorado with which Guzman had no connection and which knew nothing of Guzman, it was easier for L.A. jail to drop the ball when it came to tracking Guzman's legal whereabouts. Again, hard to know because the DHS is not talking.

(Believe me, I tried. No one in the Santa Ana Detention and Removal office would answer the first question: "how do the INS agents in the jails decide whom to interview?" even though these are the folks making these decisions. They did not refuse to answer the question but the passed me around to numerous people until a gentleman named Leo said he had to ask his supervisor about speaking to me, and then left me on hold for 15 minutes, at which point I hung up and called back. At that point, all the numbers I had been given had turned on their voice mail. )

In any case, it's not surprising that this happened, given that the DHS is recruiting from...Craigslist. The heading from the L.A. posting for August 1, 2007 says, "TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER PROTECTING AMERICA’S BORDERS" and tells potential applicants they can look forward to working in an "exciting environment with wide-open spaces..." Perhaps it was someone responding to one of these ads who ignored the alerts the DHS sent to its field offices telling them to allow Guzman into the country if he presented himself and turned him away, back into Mexico. Maybe they were surfing for used ping-pong tables.

Pedro Guzman Detained in Colorado Inn

Pedro Guzman is not the only one with an interesting story we have yet to hear (for previous postings, click on Guzman tag at bottom). ICE and their minions in the L.A. County jail need to come forward with a much better story about what happened than the one they've been sticking to so far, which is that Guzman said he was born in Mexico and requested to be sent there.

Among the many questions that deserve answers: why did the L.A. Custody Assistant routing Guzman out of the country address the Immigration Detention notice to "1st Choice Inns" in Glenwood Springs, Colorado?

This notice is generally sent to law enforcement agencies by the INS. The INS, often illegally, instructs jails and prisons to hold those suspected of being in the USA without documentation until the inmate is taken into custody by the INS.

This particular form for Pedro Guzman tells the addressee, which presumably should have been the L.A. County Jail, to "detain the provide adequate time for the INS to assume custody"; to "Notify this office of the time of release at least 30 days prior to release or as far in advance as possible"; and to "Notify this office in the event of the inmate's death or transfer to another institution."

Perhaps, I thought, 1st Choice Inns rents out space as a holding facility for the County jails or DHS. Perhaps one result of the new privatization of the government is that misidentified criminal aliens are sent to inns. So I looked up 1st Choice Inns online and gave them a call.

I asked to speak to a manager. The person who answered the phone identified herself as Natalie in Accounting and was very happy to answer my questions. According to her the Inn has never had any contracts with any government agency to house anyone. "We just wouldn't be prepared for that sort of thing," she said. I told her about the notice I was looking at, addressed to them and she confirmed the address and said she did not recall receiving such a notice and that if she had she probably would have thrown it away.

If this is just some sort of clerical error by the Sheriff's Department then at best it is a sign that they are sloppy in general and in the particulars of this case.

The DHS is not offering any explanation beyond their court filings. More on what the L.A. County Sheriff told me soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pedro Guzman, Welcome Home!

According to an AP story, Pedro Guzman
"ate out of garbage cans, bathed in rivers and was repeatedly turned away by U.S. border agents when he tried to return to California, his family said Tuesday. Pedro Guzman, 29, was picked up at the Calexico border crossing over the weekend and released to his family on Tuesday. Guzman was shaking, stuttering and appeared traumatized, his family said at a news conference. The family said it planned to seek medical attention for Guzman, who was not at the news conference. 'They took him whole, but only returned half of him to me,' his mother, Maria Carbajal, said in Spanish while crying. 'The government is responsible for this.'"

He apparently had several encounters with border guards but despite the Department of Homeland Security alert to be looking for Guzman and allow him entry, he had been turned away from his homeland on several occasions.

There still is no clear narrative from Guzman about what exactly happened during his deportation interview. I'll be posting more on this tomorrow.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

This Just In: Israeli Land Policy Breaks God's Law

This morning I happened to be reading the Hebrew Bible, looking out for passages on the treatment of foreigners (for the conclusion of the book I'm finishing) and I came upon this tidbit from Ezekiel that I hadn't expected.

God is setting out the boundaries for the land of Israel and explaining to Ezekiel where within these each of the 12 tribes should reside. In the process he tells Ezekiel to tell the Israelites that aliens should be able to remain where they are and that their inheritances must be protected. Let's listen in (as told by the Revised Standard Edition):
Thus says the Lord GOD: "These are the boundaries by which you shall divide the land for inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions.
[14] And you shall divide it equally; I swore to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance.
[15] "This shall be the boundary of the land: On the north side, from the Great Sea by way of Hethlon to the entrance of Hamath, and on to Zedad,
[16] Bero'thah, Sib'raim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer-hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran.
[17] So the boundary shall run from the sea to Hazar-e'non, which is on the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This shall be the north side.
[18] "On the east side, the boundary shall run from Hazar-e'non between Hauran and Damascus; along the Jordan between Gilead and the land of Israel; to the eastern sea and as far as Tamar. This shall be the east side.
[19] "On the south side, it shall run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-ka'desh, thence along the Brook of Egypt to the Great Sea. This shall be the south side.
[20] "On the west side, the Great Sea shall be the boundary to a point opposite the entrance of Hamath. This shall be the west side.
[21] "So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel.

And here's the kicker:

[22] You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who reside among you and have begotten children among you. They shall be to you as native-born sons of Israel; with you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
[23] In whatever tribe the alien resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, says the Lord GOD.

So that's what God says. What did today's Israelis actually do? Some land they bought from absentee Arab landlords in the early twentieth century and then used the land title to evict farmers whose families had lived in Palestine for hundreds of years. Some land they traded. And most of the land, they stole during various wars. About 93% of all land in Israel is owned by the government.
As a secret report of the Israeli government indicates, despite all these efforts 39% of the land Israel claims to own is actually still titled to Arabs whose inheritance rights, which along with God's dictum, are being violated. Here's what the New York Times published about this last year in a front-page article by Steven Erlanger (November 21, 2006):

An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians....
One case in a settlement Israel intends to keep is in Givat Zeev, barely five miles north of Jerusalem. At the southern edge is the Ayelet Hashachar synagogue. Rabah Abdellatif, a Palestinian who lives in the nearby village of Al Jib, says the land belongs to him.

Papers he has filed with the Israeli military court, which runs the West Bank, seem to favor Mr. Abdellatif. In 1999, Israeli officials confirmed, he was even granted a judgment ordering the demolition of the synagogue because it had been built without permits. But for the last seven years, the Israeli system has done little to enforce its legal judgments. The synagogue stands, and Mr. Abdellatif has no access to his land.

Ram Kovarsky, the town council secretary, said the synagogue was outside the boundaries of Givat Zeev, although there is no obvious separation. Israeli officials confirm that the land is privately owned, though they refuse to say by whom.

Mr. Abdellatif, 65, said: ''I feel stuck, angry. Why would they do that? I don't know who to go to anymore.''

He pointed to his corduroy trousers and said, in the English he learned in Paterson, N.J., where his son is a police detective: ''These are my pants. And those are your pants. And you should not take my pants. This is mine, and that is yours! I never took anyone's land.''

According to the Peace Now figures, 44.3 percent of Givat Zeev is on private Palestinian land....

[I]n the Palestinian village of Burqa, Youssef Moussa Abdel Raziq Nabboud, 85, says that some of the land of Migron, and the land on which Israel built a road for settlers, belongs to him and his family, who once grew wheat and beans there. He said he had tax documents from the pre-1967 authorities.

''They have the power to put the settlement there and we can do nothing,'' he said. ''They have a fence around the settlement and dogs there.''

Mr. Nabboud went to the Israeli authorities with the mayor, Abu Maher, but they were told he needed an Israeli lawyer and surveyor. ''I have no money for that,'' he said. What began as an outpost taking 5 acres has now taken 125, the mayor said.

Mr. Nabboud wears a traditional head covering; his grandson, Khaled, 27, wears a Yankees cap. ''The land is my inheritance,'' he said. ''I feel sad I can't go there. And angry. The army protects them.''
The words of God on this matter deserve one last mention:
[22] You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who reside among you and have begotten children among you. They shall be to you as native-born sons of Israel; with you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
[23] In whatever tribe the alien resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, says the Lord GOD.
This morning's paper mentioned yet another atrocity Israel committed. Today it was the death of a Palestinian denied entry at the border so he could go to the hospital. Buried in a New York Times story about Holocaust benefits titled "Olmert Will Rework Aid Plan for Survivors of the Holocaust" we learn about Israel's own annihilation policies:
In Gaza, a Palestinian man seeking treatment in Israel for kidney failure died while waiting at the Erez border crossing. Israel had agreed to allow the man, Wael Abu Warda, 27, to travel to an Israeli hospital for treatment. He arrived Thursday night but was not allowed through; an Israeli Army spokeswoman said that Palestinian officials had withdrawn the request for him earlier on Thursday. He was told to return Friday morning. A second request was made on Friday and approved, the army said, but another patient was sent through instead. In the meantime, Mr. Warda died.
Image is from 2006 commemoration of the 1948 War that led to Arab expulsion and expropriation; it is in southern Bethlehem in protest of a wall being erected.
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