Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ICE Deporting US Citizens, The Rest, Pt. II

UPDATE: Yesterday ICE appealed, yet again, a judge's order to terminate the removal proceedings against Neil Rambana's client, a US citizen. Despite the fact that immigration judge William Cassidy issued orders in 2006 and 2008 terminating David's deportation, David remains incarcerated. For more, see "US Citizen Falsely Imprisoned by ICE" (Georgia).

In The Nation article (pub. date June 23, 2008) "Thin ICE," in addition to the profiles of several US citizens whom ICE falsely imprisoned for up to five years, I mention a few statistics. No room to explain in the article, or to review the plights of all 30+ US citizens, but in the next few days I'll elaborate.

The statistics:
The first number I mention is the 276,912 US residents ICE deported in 2007. This figure is straight from an online publication by the Department of Homeland Security, FY07 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Accomplishments. This states:

"ICE implemented a comprehensive interior enforcement strategy focused on more efficiently processing apprehended illegal aliens and reducing the numbers of criminal and fugitive aliens in the United States. In FY07, ICE removed a record 276,912 illegal aliens, including voluntary removals, from the United States."

This high figure is indeed alarming. It means that, like the Nazi government in prewar Germany, the US government has been combing the country for longtime residents and then removing them from the country on the grounds that they are not citizens.

Most of those being deported are being found through the jails and prisons, taken in secret to detention facilities without any notice to their families, and indeed, lying to relatives by saying that the locations are not known. Here's how ICE describes what it's up to:

"ICE’s Criminal Alien Program, which screens aliens in prison to ensure that they are removed from the United States upon the completion of their sentences, initiated removal proceedings against 164,296 criminal aliens."

The problem documented in "Thin ICE" is that many of those deported are actually US citizens. An additional problem is that virtually all of the people who are deported from the prisons and jails are longterm US residents, many of whom were picked up for minor infractions or misdemeanors such as drunk driving and failing to stop for the police, prostitution, possessing a small amount of methamphetamines or marijuana, a barroom brawl perhaps years after a bench warrant was issued when someone failed to show up for a traffic violation. (These examples are drawn from cases with I am familiar.)

Again, think Nazi Germany: you're a Jew taken into the police for drunk driving after a fight with your girlfriend and suddenly no one knows where you are. Or your mother goes to work in the morning and you come home after school and she's gone and no one knows where she is. I am not describing Germany during the 1940s, during the death camps, but in the 1930s when the Nazi government started to make doing business with Jews illegal, and then being Jewish was illegal. This is happening here. This is happening now. I am not suggesting that the next step is death camps, but that this current activity is despicable in itself.

More on the rest of the numbers in "Thin ICE" tomorrow.

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