Latina Lista culled local news stories about immigrant families being detained without charge or due process some six months ago. To date, there is no major coverage of this story.
Privatized Immigrant Detention Facilities for Families Revealed to be Modern-Day Concentration Camps
One of the more disturbing stories that surfaced after the Swift meat plant raids was how too many children were left without a parent and/or farmed out to friends and families with no immediate word on how they will be reconnected with their mami and papi.
But if news filtering out of one of the newly designated immigrant detention centers for families is any indication, no undocumented parent is going to open their mouth and claim their children if the whole family ihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifs going to be subjected to what is becoming known as the first known concentration camp on American soil in the 21st Century.
The T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas (on the outskirts of Austin, Texas) is a private detention facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America. It and a smaller center in Pennsylvania are the only two facilities in the country that are authorized to hold non-Mexican immigrant families and children on noncriminal charges.
What does this mean?
It means that at the Taylor facility of the 400 people “held” there, 200 are children. And all are families that can be held there for whatever length of time without due process conducted in a timely manner.
To top it off, as long as the men, women and children are held there, the facility’s operator draws a daily profit – per person.
The children range in age from infants on up.
According to the lawyers who have visited their clients in the facility, the children receive one hour of education, English instruction, a day and one half hour of indoor recreation.
Jeans and t-shirts have been replaced with jail uniforms; children are issued uniforms as soon as they can fit into them — and everyone must wear name tags, even the babies.
Lawyers are reporting that thefamiliess are receiving substandard medical care and becoming ill from the food being served them. Children are losing weight and people are complaining of migraine-type headaches.
Those clients who are asylum seekers, say the lawyers, are continually suffering trauma on top of the trauma they’ve already undergone in their home countries – all without receiving any kind of pyschological treatment.
Originally, the detention facilities were touted by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a way to keep families together while waiting for their cases to come up for court review.
Well, they are accomplishing that goal – to the exclusion of being allowed any outside contact with the rest of the world, aside from those who have lawyers.
The plight of these families caught in a government-sanctioned Hell is slowly spreading (Texas Civil Rights Review, Austin’s American Statesman Editorial,American Statesman article) but with Christmas less than a week away these families truly need a miracle to let them know that the outside world knows that they are there — not to mention, the children who need to know that Santa or Los Tres Reyes, or the other Holiday entities observed by those who are not Mexican or Latin American, will know where to find them.
The detention for a prolonged period of any child, regardless of whether or not they are with family members, is beneath what the United States used to stand for.
As of late, the activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the direction of Homeland Security, has had too many people – on both sides of the immigration debate – shaking their heads as to what our government is capable of subjecting the children of these immigrants to.
We have felt helpless and too many times my Inbox is filled with emails of “What can I do?” or “Where do we go from here?”
Concerned citizens, led by human rights proponent Jay Johnson-Castro (center), walk in protest 35 miles from Texas state capitol in Austin to Taylor,Texas, site of the Hutto Residential facility.
There are few issues that demand immediate action, and when children are concerned, it most always warrants as one of those issues.
For children to be held longer than three days, receive but one hour of instruction and only a half hour of recreational play, to be made to feel like criminals by wearing jail jumpsuits and name tags and not have any contact with anyone outside of the facility is a serious violation of the public trust we have in our government, and how we value children in this country.
What can be done?
As cliche as it sounds, it’s time to contact our government officials:
The White House
Members of Congress
Corrections Corporation of America
Yet, the secret of doing something, that the blogosphere discovered long ago, is that you don’t stop with one email, one posting or one phone call.
The issue must be talked about and circulated until there is action, positive change and the day when all these families can see that they are not alone.
A Mexican American man who is a U.S. citizen illegally deported to Mexico? Yes, it’s true and the story speaks to subaltern forms of citizenship that make its conferral seemingly meaningless for the ethnically marked body of the Chicano. The LA Times call this a case of “mistaken deportation.” Surreal.
From ACLU site
U.S. Citizen Illegally Deported From Jail Is Missing in Mexico
ACLU and Law Firm Seek Federal Help to Find Developmentally Disabled Man
Monday, June 11, 2007 printer version
LOS ANGELES — Federal immigration officers and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department illegally deported a U.S. citizen last month, the ACLU/SC has learned. He is missing in Mexico, and today the ACLU/SC and the law firm of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking his safe return.
Pedro Guzman, 29, was born in Los Angeles and raised in Lancaster, California. He was serving time at Men’s Central Jail for trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, when he was deported to Tijuana May 10 or 11. Mr. Guzman is developmentally disabled, does not read or write English well, and knows no one in Tijuana. He declared at his booking that he was born in California.
He spoke to his sister-in-law by telephone from a shelter in Tijuana within a day of his deportation, but the call was interrupted. Family members traveled to the city in an attempt to find him and have remained there, searching shelters, jails, churches, hospitals, and morgues.
There are no circumstances under which government officials may deport a U.S. citizen. Federal officials have refused requests by family members and a private lawyer to assist in the search for Mr. Guzman.
“This is a recurring nightmare for every person of color of immigrant roots,” said ACLU/SC legal director Mark Rosenbaum. “Local jail officials and federal immigration officers deported the undeportable, a United States citizen, based on appearance, prejudice, and reckless failure to apply fair legal procedures.”
“What has happened to Pedro Guzman is a tragedy,” said Stacy Tolchin of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale. “His life may be in danger, and the government must act immediately to locate him and return him to the United States.”
Jail and Department of Homeland Security officials failed to identify Mr. Guzman’s disability and improperly obtained his signature for deportation from the United States. “The procedures for determination of legal status implemented by Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs … fail even minimal criteria for constitutional due process,” the lawsuit states.
Sheriff’s deputies trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conduct immigration checks at L.A. County jails. The ACLU and immigrant-rights groups warned that involving local law enforcement in immigration policing would lead to mistaken deportations and violate the due-process rights of inmates.
Anyone with information about Mr. Guzman can call the ACLU/SC at (213) 977-9500.
Our tax dollars and our brilliant military minds at work. This is precious.
From The Washington Post
“Sunshine Project Uncovers US Military ‘Gay Bomb’: Pentagon Examined Sexual Warfare Proposal From Air Force’s Wright Laboratory”
By Emil Steiner
In my job I come across a lot of strange stories, but this is one is almost too wild to believe. In December 2004, The Sunshine Project, a watchdog group based in Austin, Tex., and Hamburg, Germany, that opposes biological weapons, uncovered a “U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.” The story got some press in early 2005, but quickly vanished into that great internet junkyard of forgotten URLs, the only memory being a lonely wikipedia entry.
There it lay, all but dead until one week ago when The Huffington Post resuscitated the tale with a tongue-in-cheek entry asking: “[i]sn’t it always the best ideas which fall by the wayside?” A CBS news affiliate in California adopted it last Friday and since then this offbeat classic has experienced a viral rebirth across the blogosphere. Here are the broad-strokes:
The proposal came from the Air Force’s Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, which requested $7.5 million to develop a so-called “gay-bomb.” Using the Freedom of Information Act, Edward Hammond, director of the U.S. office of the Sunshine Project, obtained a copy which was “part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons.” If completed, the bomb would release a chemical aphrodisiac “and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical… soldiers would become gay.” This would cause their units to break down as the troops “became irresistibly attractive to one another.” In addition to a “gay bomb” the proposal also mentions using chemicals which could make bees angry so that enemy forces would be attacked not only by our troops but also swarms of stinging insects.
Defense Department officials have acknowledged that such ideas were proposed by the Air Force in 1994, and then “quickly dismissed.” They played down the significance of the Sunshine report, stating that many proposals come their way that are rejected for ethical reasons. But Hammond disputes their dismissal as “absolutely incorrect.” He contends, that “if [the ideas] had been summarily rejected I would never have found them.” He went on to state that the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate, based out of Quantico, actually used the “gay-bomb” idea as a marketing tool in a CD-ROM from 2001-2002 and that “the Pentagon… submitted it to the highest scientific review body in the country.”
So, much like the media’s coverage of this story, the original “gay bomb” idea may have been proposed, dismissed and then resurrected by a different branch of the military (in media terms, think print to blog to TV). Now the gay and lesbian communities, which are already suspicious of the U.S. military, have yet another reason to shake their heads in disbelief. And they are not alone. Leave aside the “Kids In The Hall” absurdity of “attack bees” and “gay bombs.” The fact that The United States Air Force asked for $7.5 million for a project that assumes a) sexual orientation can be altered through chemicals and b) homosexuals are more interested in sex than duty is certainly worthy of a second life in the blogosphere.
The United States Surgeon General has an important charge: to provide Americans with the best scientific information available in order to improve the national body politic’s health. So it stands to reason that the position of U.S. Surgeon General should be filled by someone informed by science. Unfortunately, James Holsinger isn’t capable of that. As a proponent of a 1991 white paper on “de-gaying,” he’s shown to be less than aware of basic medical science.
By Max Blumenthal, (HuffingtonPost.com), “Bush Nominates Surgeon General Who Supports ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy”
The concept of “ex-gay” therapy, repudiated by the medical world, will be thoroughly examined when Bush’s new surgeon general nominee comes up for confirmation.
James Holsinger, President George W. Bush’s nominee for Surgeon General, has a dark view of homosexuals. In a 1991 paper, Holsinger describes homosexual sex in sickeningly lurid language. “Fist fornication,” “sphincter injuries,” “lacerations,” “perforations” and “deaths seen in connection with anal eroticism,” are some of the terms Holsinger concocted to describe acts with which he suggests at least medical familiarity (a case of participant observation, perhaps?). At the same paper, Holsinger puzzlingly issues no warnings about the dangers of heterosexual sex in his paper. To him, only “anal eroticism” is a health peril.
Holsinger’s allies — those who lobbied the White House for his nomination — include James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and the Heritage Foundation. They have predictably cast his confirmation battle as a religious test, alleging that his homophobia is a reflection of orthodox Christian views. To oppose Holsinger on the grounds of his anti-gay sentiments, the right says, is to discriminate against him simply for being a bible-believing Christian. Why should he have to check his Christianity at the church exit door? they ask. This worn-out appeal to the Christian right’s victimhood complex distracts from the most salient argument against Holsinger’s confirmation — which is exactly what it is intended to do.
For a moment let’s put aside the moral case against Holsinger’s confirmation, and objectively examine his qualifications for America’s top doctor. Holsinger and his wife were founders of Hope Springs Community Church. This church, according to its pastor, Rev. David Calhoun, has an “ex-gay” ministry that administers “reparative therapy” to people who no longer wish to be gay. “We see that as an issue not of orientation but a lifestyle,” Calhoun says. “We have people who seek to walk out of that lifestyle.”
Holsinger believes in ex-gay therapy. He therefore views homosexuality as a curable disease. Every major, reputable medical organization rejects ex-gay therapy and the notion that homosexuality constitutes a mental illness. Every single one. The most notable of these organizations is the American Psychological Association, the country’s largest organization of mental health professionals. In 1974, the APA stopped listing homosexuality as a mental disorder; last year, the group issued a pointed repudiation to the ideological proponents of ex-gay therapy. (It’s worth adding that conversion therapy supporters have not produced one single word of peer-reviewed work to support their theories).
Holsinger’s belief in discredited, crack-pot “conversion” therapy puts him in direct conflict with virtually the entire American medical community. Holsinger can believe in radical evangelical doctrine and he can hold bigoted views. As lamentable as these traits are, they don’t necessarily disqualify him for Surgeon General — though they certainly cast a dark shadow over his nomination. What instantly disqualifies Holsinger is his rejection of medical science. He can be politically incorrect, but he can’t be medically incorrect.
If history is any guide, conservatism and respect for science are not mutually exclusive. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the co-author of a strident anti-abortion tract with evangelical dominionist godfather Francis Schaeffer, respected science. In the face of massive resistance from right-wing activists, Koop used his prestige to advocate for sex education and condom use to stanch the rising epidemic of AIDS. For Koop’s stand on medical principle, his one-time allies pressured Reagan into forcing him to resign. There is no indication Holsinger will follow Koop’s principled path.
When Holsinger goes before the Senate, ex-gay therapy goes on trial. He and his Republican supporters should be compelled to state their views on homosexuality and the crackpot practice the Christian right employs to “cure” people of it. Is homosexuality a treatable disease and how do they know it? (This question should be asked of GOP presidential contenders as well). If and when Holsinger’s nomination goes down in flames, ex-gay therapy will have received its most decisive repudiation yet.
Politicos of all stripes are increasingly, if belatedly, aware of just how brown the country is, and just how much more brown it will be. The question involves the degree to which institutions are willing to respond, or not, to this reality. Hillary Clinton has received an important endorsement from Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The immigration bill frenzy (or fallout depending on your politics) will likely not abate anytime soon, creating a window of opportunity for politicians capable of bringing the right Latina and Latino strategists aboard.
Raymond Hernández, “Menendez Is Set to Endorse Clinton for President, Aides Say”
The Jena Six
I reproduce Vox Ex Machina’s fine essay below:
Jena, La., has taken a leaf from the book of Paris, Tex. In yet another case, black teenagers have been arrested in a case of teens being teens. In yet another case, white teens were not given the same treatment.
White students at a local high school hung nooses from a tree when black students began sitting under it; it had traditionally been a tree used for shade by white students. They weren’t punished for it. When black students protested, the local D.A. told them that he could “make (their) lives disappear with a stroke of (his) pen.”
Fights broke out between the students. No white student was ever punished.
In the first weekend of December, a Black student was assaulted by a group of white students, and a white graduate of Jena High School threatened several Black students with a shotgun. The following Monday, white students taunted the Black student who was assaulted over the weekend, and one of the white students was beaten up.
Within hours, six Black students were arrested. “I think the district attorney is pinning it on us to make an example of us,” said Purvis. “In Jena, people get accused of things they didn’t do a lot.”
Soon after, their parents discovered that these students were facing attempted murder charges. “The courtroom, the whole back side, was filled with police officers,” Tina Jones, Bryant’s mother, recalls. “I guess they thought maybe when they announced what the charges were, we were gonna go berserk or something.” [Full story]
The students face charges on conspiracy to commit murder as well, and face up to 100 years in prison. For a high school fight. Because administrators didn’t take action against the racists who hung nooses from a tree, or against white students harassing and starting fights with black students for months.
This is why schools need to shut down bullying. And this is exactly why they won’t. Why stop bullying when it’s against students of color? Who cares if bullying causes the next Seung Cho, or Jeffrey Weise, or Kenneth Eng, or Jena Six?
After Columbine, there were anti-bullying initiatives, people speaking out, shouting out against bullying, against those poor boys who were so tortured that they had to shoot people. After Virginia Tech, have people spoken about the bullies Seung Cho faced? Not much. One mainstream article talked about it, but most have focused on his mental illness, his immigration status, his perceived motivations, how weird students at Virginia Tech found him, his plays.
Bullying leads to violence. Bullying leads to hatred. Bullying leads to fighting, and protests.
But when it comes to students of color, instead of cracking down on bullying, school administrators let it go. And then they call in police to interrogate 12-year-old girls or to arrest six black students, because the precious white bullies couldn’t be at fault. They’re white (or they’re popular, or they’re Christian … but mostly they’re white).
And then you have people like the Jena Six, who defend themselves from violence and get arrested for it, or Kenneth Eng, spewing hatred and laughing at violence, or like Jeffrey Weise or Seung Cho, who snap and take out as many as they can.
And then come the excuses.
Why don’t we try something new this time? How about the mainstream media, and the mainstream bloggers, and the mainstream protesters and legislators and law enforcement … how about you all WAKE UP?
Because your system is broken beyond belief, and it’s time you all started noticing that.
The long awaited LA Times article on the state of affairs between Latinos and Blacks in Los Angeles is out and it confirms what many have known all along. Racial enmity is tearing at the city’s seams. The limited distribution of resources has made the two groups fight with each other while leaving structural inequalities for both intact.
The proposed “point system” leaves Mexicans, the largest number of (im)migrants to the U.S., in limbo again. The system seeks to “award” points for better educated, higher skilled immigrants, and would remain in place for the next 14 years. But the point system isn’t so much a compromise between Democrats and Republicans as it is a failed system from its conception. It does not address the most pressing issues affecting Mexican immigration to this country, the economies these immigrants help to keep afloat through their labor, nor the working conditions that make their bodies expendable commodities in this economy. Locking the point system into law for the next 14 years neither addresses the U.S.’s changing economy, nor its ability to compete in a “new world order” of its own creation.
“Ekaterina D. Atanasova, a civil engineer from Bulgaria who lives in southern Maine, wants to bring her husband to the United States. Under the Senate immigration bill, he would get high marks — at least 74 points — because he too is a civil engineer, has a master’s degree and is fluent in English.
But Herminia Licona Sandoval, a cleaning woman from Honduras, would have no hope of bringing her 30-year-old son to the United States. He works as a driver at an oil refinery, lacks a high school diploma, speaks little English and would fare poorly under the Senate bill, earning fewer than 15 of a possible 100 points.” (Robert Pear, A Point System for Immigrants Incites Passions)
“The glue that is keeping this process going is the absolute agreement by all the disparate groups that the current system is absolutely dysfunctional,” Bruce Josten, chief lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post)