Posts tagged La Migra

Start Digging

When La Migra reaches the bottom of the barrel, they pick that barrel up and they start digging.

Shared Article from Jezebel

ICE Agents Target Hypothermia Shelter In a Church to Arrest Home…

Following Donald Trump’s executive order expanding the power of immigration authorities, those affected have included a married mom of two, an indiv…

jezebel.com


Following Donald Trump’s executive order expanding the power of immigration authorities, those affected have included a married mom of two, an individual protected by DACA, and a victim of domestic violence who was in court seeking a protective order. Now ICE has moved on to target people seeking safety from deadly weather.

NBC News 4 reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials surprised a group of men leaving a hypothermia shelter in Alexandria, Virginia early on Wednesday morning. The shelter is part of Rising Hope Mission Church, and thus falls under ICE’s “sensitive location” policy. The policy demands that arrests not take place at churches, schools, or medical facilities. Agents reportedly waited until the men had crossed the street before surrounding them.

–Aimée Lutkin, [ICE Agents Target Hypothermia Shelter]
Jezebel (February 16, 2017).

Shared Article from Washington Post

‘This is really unprecedented’: ICE detains woman seeking d…

“It really was a stunning event,” said the county attorney. “It has an incredible chilling effect for all undocumented victims of any crime in o…

washingtonpost.com


A hearing in El Paso County in Texas went from ordinary to “unprecedented” last week when half a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a courthouse where an undocumented woman was seeking a protective order against the boyfriend she accused of abusing her.

The woman, a citizen of Mexico who was living in El Paso had been driven to the courthouse by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she had been living.

She left under arrest. . . . It was the first time in her 23 years at the courthouse, [El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne] Bernal said, that she can remember ICE agents making their presence known during a protective order hearing. The agents had come to stake out the woman, identified by her initials I.E.G., because, Bernal speculates, they likely received a tip from the only other person who knew the time and place of the hearing — the woman’s alleged abuser.

–Katie Mettler, [This is really unprecedented]
Washington Post (February 16, 2017)

Shared Article from Washington Post

Memos signed by DHS secretary describe sweeping new guidelines …

The documents detail plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents and expand the pool of immigrants prioritized for removal.

washingtonpost.com


If these guidelines are enacted, it will be an appalling escalation of this already-terrible situation. It will be a brutal use of state violence to separate families, punish the weakest and the most vulnerable, to destroy livelihoods and literally endanger lives. And all for what? To enforce a ridiculous system of international segregation. To hell with that.

End 287(g). Stop deportation. Abolish ICE. Abolish DHS. Abolish the Presidency. Open the borders, and free the people who cross them.

Targeted Enforcement Actions

La Migra has started conducted large-scale immigration raids in over half a dozen states, and is alleged to be setting up Ihre Papiere, bitte checkpoints and lurking in or around schools to follow children.

From KVUE.com in Austin (Feb. 10, 2017):

AUSTIN – After a day of reports surrounding Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions at various locations throughout Austin, Congressman Joaquin Castro confirmed a targeted operation by ICE in South and Central Texas. The Mexican Consulate of Austin has since confirmed 44 Mexican immigrants were detained in the past 48 hours in Austin.

. . . As Friday morning continued to roll on, social media began to fill with posts from people reporting ICE raids and arrests throughout the community. KVUE began investigating the reports with law enforcement and Defender Tony Plohetski talked to law enforcement sources at the federal, state, and local levels and none reported any operations outside of their daily action.

Shared Article from KVUE

ICE detains 44 in Austin: What We Know | KVUE.com

After a day of reports surrounding Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions at various locations throughout Austin, Congressman Joaquin Castro conf…

kvue.com


From the Washington Post to-day (Feb. 11, 2017):

U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Immigration officials confirmed that agents this week raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, netting hundreds of people. But Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said they were part of “routine” immigration enforcement actions. ICE dislikes the term “raids,” and prefers to say authorities are conducting “targeted enforcement actions,” she said.

. . . Immigration activists said the crackdown went beyond the six states DHS identified, and said they had also documented ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.

That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock wave through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.

. . . ICE agents in the Los Angeles area Thursday took a number of individuals into custody over the course of an hour, seizing them from their homes and on their way to work, activists said.

. . . Spanish language radio stations and the local NPR affiliate in Los Angeles have been running public service announcements regarding the hourly “Know Your Rights” seminars the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles scheduled for Friday and Saturday. By the time the 4 p.m. group began Friday, more than 100 others had gathered at the group’s office in the Westlake neighborhood just outside downtown.

A video that circulated on social media Friday appeared to show ICE agents in Texas detaining people in an Austin shopping center parking lot. Immigration advocates also reported roadway checkpoints, where ICE appeared to be targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin. ICE officials denied that authorities used checkpoints during the operations.

. . . Immigrant rights groups said that they were planning protests in response to the raids, including one Friday evening in Federal Plaza in New York City and a vigil in Los Angeles.

“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” said Walter Barrientos of Make the Road New York in New York City, who spoke on a conference call with immigration advocates.

. . . Jeanette Vizguerra, 35, a Mexican house cleaner whose permit to stay in the country expired this week, said Friday during the conference call that she was newly apprehensive about her scheduled meeting with ICE next week.

Fearing deportation, Vizguerra, a Denver mother of four — including three who are U.S. citizens — said through an interpreter that she had called on activists and supporters to accompany her to the meeting.

“I know I need to mobilize my community, but I know my freedom is at risk here,” Vizguerra said.

Shared Article from Washington Post

Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at leas…

The raids mark the first large-scale immigration action since President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants l…

washingtonpost.com


It hardly needs adding here that this conduct is terrifying, and despicable. There is no nation on earth that is worth more than even a single innocent life, no border that is more important than a refugee, or a dream, or a family, or a plain old honest living. Nationalism is the most toxic idea in the world to individual liberty, to global justice, to fairness, to compassion or to simple human decency. Border controls are a form of population control, one of the most mean-spirited and practically most lethal in the world today. These raids are spreading fear; they are terrorizing a community and destroying families for a worthless political line. Halt these raids, stop deportation, tear down every wall and bury the rubble in the dirt.

Death by Homeland Security #3: The Disappeared

From Nina Bernstein and Margot Williams, The New York Times (2009-04-02): Immigrant Detainee Dies, and a Life Is Buried, Too:

The hand-scrawled letter from a New Jersey jail was urgent. An immigration detainee had died that day, Sept. 9, 2005, a fellow inmate wrote in broken English, describing chest pains and pleas for medical attention that went unheeded until too late.

Death … need to be investigated, he urged a local group that corresponded with foreigners held for deportation at the jail, the Monmouth County Correctional Institute in Freehold. We care very much because that can happen to anyone of us.

Yet like a message in a bottle tossed from a distant shore, even the fact of the detainee’s death was soon swept away.

Inquiries by the local group were rebuffed by jail officials. Complaints forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security were logged, then forgotten. And when pressure from Congress and the news media compelled Immigration and Customs Enforcement to produce the first list of people who had died in their custody, the Freehold case was not on it.

The difficulty of confirming the very existence of the dead man, Ahmad Tanveer, 43, a Pakistani New Yorker, shows how death can fall between the cracks [sic! –R.G.] in immigration detention, the rapidly growing patchwork of more than 500 county jails, profit-making prisons and federal detention centers where half a million noncitizens were held during the last year while the government tried to deport them.

… Even now, most questions about Mr. Tanveer are unanswered, including just who he was and why he had been detained. The rescue of his death from oblivion took a rare mix of chance, vigilance by a few citizen activists, litigation by the civil liberties union and several months of inquiry by The Times. Even as the newspaper confirmed Mr. Tanveer’s death with jail officials, and tracked his body’s path from a Freehold morgue to the cargo hold of an airplane at Kennedy Airport, immigration authorities maintained that they could find no documents showing such a person was ever detained, or died in their custody.

Not until March 20, in response to a new request by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act, did the agency release an internal e-mail message acknowledging that the death had been overlooked. It issued a corrected list that now includes him — his first and last names transposed — among 90 people who died in immigration custody between Oct. 7, 2003, and Feb. 7, 2009.

… In Mr. Tanveer’s case, efforts to draw public scrutiny were exceptional, yet went nowhere. The scrawled note by his fellow detainee, a Nigerian who garbled the dead man’s name as Ahmed Tender, reached citizen activists at the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee, who were unable to confirm it. Other complaints that Mr. Tanveer did not receive proper care separately reached a former member of the group, Jean Blum, a disabled Holocaust survivor who had continued corresponding with dozens of detainees from her home in Paterson, N.J., even though she could barely afford the postage.

I am very, very aware of the issues that involve displaced people, said Ms. Blum, 73, who was a child when she and her parents, Polish Jews, fled the Nazis. I could not turn my back, because that is my history.

Ms. Blum forwarded a packet of correspondence about the death to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general by Sept. 20, 2005, seeking an investigation. But within weeks, documents show, the matter was simply passed for internal inquiry to the immigration agency, which is part of Homeland Security, with the notation that it need not bother to report back its findings.

Years after Mr. Tanveer’s death, the scrawled note about his heart attack came to the attention of the A.C.L.U., and its lawyers noticed that no such name appeared on the first government list of 66 people published by The Times in 2008. The union added the name to its lawsuit, and eventually obtained the paper trail on what Ms. Blum had sent the government.

The union learned that the inspector general’s office had written up a synopsis of the allegations for investigation by the immigration agency, saying that Ahmad Tander, a Pakistani detainee housed at the Monmouth jail, had died from a heart attack whose symptoms were obvious, severe and ignored until it was too late, amid conditions of neglect and indifference to medical needs.

But when the A.C.L.U. pressed for more, government lawyers said no further records could be found.

Early this year, The Times called a spokeswoman for the Monmouth County Sheriff, who confirmed the death and gave the name as Tanver — later correcting the spelling to Tanveer.

In names transcribed from a foreign alphabet, such variations often pose a problem of identification. But the facts matched: Mr. Tanveer had arrived at the jail in immigration custody on Aug. 12, 2005, and on Sept. 9 was taken by ambulance to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, where he died, the spokeswoman, Cynthia Scott, said. Under the jail’s federal contract, she said, nothing more could be disclosed.

A CentraState spokesman initially denied that such a patient had died at the hospital. Later the medical record was found misfiled, and the spokesman, James M. Goss, confirmed the man’s death at age 43. But, citing privacy laws and policy, he declined to answer other questions about the case, including what had happened to the body.

In New Jersey, as in many states, autopsy reports are private. But the county morgue confirmed that an autopsy had been performed. Eventually, two details were shared: the name of the Queens funeral home that picked up the body for burial on Sept. 12, and the fact that the autopsy report was sent two months later to Mark Stokes, an official in the New York office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Yet for more than three years since, the tallies and testimony that the agency submitted to Congress about detainee deaths have not included the Tanveer case.

In January 2009, equipped with confirmation, The Times again requested documents in Mr. Tanveer’s death. President Obama had just directed federal agencies to err on the side of transparency in releasing records to the public. But a Freedom of Information officer soon said she was stymied: Immigration record-keepers told her no documents could be located without the dead man’s date of birth or eight-digit alien registration number.

And the body? The director of the funeral home, Coppola-Migliore in Corona, Queens, said Mr. Tanveer’s New York relatives had it flown to Pakistan for burial, using Pakistan International Airlines. But the funeral director declined to identify the relatives without their permission and said they had not returned phone calls. And the Pakistani Consulate had no record of the case.

Also futile was a search for witnesses among fellow detainees, many since deported. The Nigerian detainee who wrote the urgent letter, an ailing diabetic, was later released pending a deportation hearing. According to social workers at the Queens-based charity that was his last known contact, he is now a homeless fugitive, lost in the streets of New York.

Victoria L. Allred, chief of staff in the financial office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wrote in an internal e-mail message March 4 that the death had not been discovered until after the chart omitting it had been submitted to Congress for the latest subcommittee hearing, March 3. I apologize for the discrepancy, she wrote.

Yet as of Thursday, immigration authorities still have not released records on Mr. Tanveer’s detention or death, which they attribute to occlusive coronary atherosclerosis, nor have they addressed the complaint that his heart attack went untreated in the jail for more than two hours.

On the expanded list, he is the only detainee with no birth date. And in the e-mail message acknowledging the death, his alien registration number has been redacted — to protect his privacy, the government said.

— Nina Bernstein and Margot Williams, The New York Times (2009-04-02): Immigrant Detainee Dies, and a Life Is Buried, Too

Ahmad Tanveer was abducted, caged, deliberately denied medical care and left to die in jail, and then disappeared by the United States federal government’s bordercrats and their hired thugs, who have gone up and down the chain of command denying, declining, misfiling and deliberately blocking disclosure of information about the case at every turn. They haven’t done a damned thing to investigate this man’s murder and they’ve did their best for years to make sure that nobody ever found out much of anything about it. The Times deserves a great deal of credit for doggedly investigating, and ultimately exposing, what has been going on in la Migra’s special prison system. But there’s a deep problem with passing it off as a matter of some poor shmoe falling between the cracks of a patchwork system of government immigration jails — as if this were a matter of disorganization or bureaucratic inefficiency — rather than what it is, an act of administrative murder, followed by a campaign of repeated stonewalling and cover-ups, under the excuse of Homeland Security, or on the outrageous claim that they are doing it out of concern for the privacy of their own victim. Not just in this one case, but over, and over again, to God knows how many people:

We still do not know, and we cannot know, if there are other deaths that have never been disclosed by ICE, or that ICE itself knows nothing about, said Tom Jawetz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been battling in court for months to obtain government records on all detention deaths, including the Freehold case and those named on the first government list, obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act and published last year.

We believe we have accounted for every single detainee death, Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said last week, adding that a death in March was promptly reported to Congress under a policy directive from Dora Schriro, the new administration’s special adviser on detention.

Yet even the latest list, which Ms. Nantel called comprehensive, thorough, is missing a known death from 2008: that of Ana Romero Rivera, a 44-year-old Salvadoran cleaning woman who was found hanged last August in an isolation cell in a county jail in Frankfort, Ky., where she was awaiting deportation. Federal officials now disagree whether she was legally in their custody when she died.

There are unverified reports that other detainees may have died unnamed and uncounted. At the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami, for example, directors cite a letter in late July 2007 from a detainee who described an 18-year-old Haitian woman, Mari Rosa, coughing up blood for hours without medical attention at the Glades County Jail in Moore Haven, Fla. The letter said she fell to the ground, had no pulse when she was finally taken to the medical unit and was never brought back, adding, The detainees think she is dead.

The center has been unable to confirm what happened to that woman, said Susana Barciela, its policy director.

… As Congress and the news media brought new scrutiny to the issue, several detention deaths have highlighted problems with medical care and accountability. In one, a Chinese computer engineer’s extensive cancer and fractured spine went undiagnosed at a Rhode Island jail until shortly before he died, despite his pleas for help. In another, records show a Guinean tailor who suffered a skull fracture in a New Jersey jail was left in isolation without treatment for more than 13 hours.

— Nina Bernstein and Margot Williams, The New York Times (2009-04-02): Immigrant Detainee Dies, and a Life Is Buried, Too

Representative Zoe Lofgren of the state of California, is shocked — shocked! — to find that such a thing would be going on in the government’s special immigration prisons:

How can you overlook a guy who died in your custody? asked Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who has presided over two subcommittee hearings dealing with care and deaths in detention, battling unsuccessfully for full disclosure from immigration officials. Did they forget other people? Was it an isolated, single error, or was it something more sinister?

— Nina Bernstein and Margot Williams, The New York Times (2009-04-02): Immigrant Detainee Dies, and a Life Is Buried, Too

But the answer to these questions are easy. This case — all these cases, and more — happened because of a single error. But not an isolated one. The system itself is the error — there is no possible way to enforce immigration controls without creating special, parallel systems of imprisonment and administrative courts in which basic civil liberties and basic principles of due process are eliminated. There is no possible way for the government to go around trying to detect and exile undocumented immigrants without reversing basic components of due process, like the presumption of innocence. Any system of immigration documentation necessarily places the burden on the documented person to prove to the government’s satisfaction, by producing their documentation, that they have a right to exist where they do — rather than putting the burden on the government to prove that they do not. (The government will no doubt object that they can’t prove a negative. Of course they can’t, which is why they can’t implement a system of border laws within the bounds of anything resembling due process. Which is an argument against border laws, not against due process.) Any system of border laws whatever will always produce special prisons and special courts for the administration of the federal Fugitive Alien Acts, in which those imprisoned and judged will be stripped of basic privileges or immunities, and denied any realistic hope of recourse for crimes committed against them.

When Anarchists speak about a society based on consent, and when we say that we can settle any genuine issue of socio-economic coordination and community life through consensual, grassroots processes of negotiation and free association or dissociation — without government armies, government borders, or government prisons — we are constantly accused, by some sanctimonious know-it-all who presumes that repeating statist chestnuts amounts to hard-nosed realism and some special expertise in history and in the problems of life, of being utopians, whose ideas have no hope of practical workability. But as a matter of fact, we Anarchists have nothing on those who imagine that there can be some right way to run statist institutions, with the right policies in place and with virtuous and competent people to administer them, that will somehow avoid the predictable results that have happened in every other government institution like it. It takes the most naive sort of utopianism, and the cruelest sort of killing negligence, to go on pretending, in the face of both logic and historical evidence, that there is some possible way for government to construct systems of special tribunals in which people are treated as legal non-persons, without bringing along what this sort of thing has always and everywhere produced — effectively unchecked power by the government over its prisoners, who are granted no rights and given no recourse, and, what always follows unchecked power, rampant brutality, negligence, lying, death, and disappearance. There is no way to do it, no way at all. You cannot enforce border laws without constructing a system like that, and you cannot construct a system like that without, eventually, to a greater or a lesser degree, repeating every brutality and every horror that has always come along with every system of legal black holes, special security courts, and concentration camps that the world has ever known.

See also:

Emergency action alert: Twin Cities protesters imprisoned without charges; human rights abuses in Ramsey County jail. Free all political prisoners!

Folks,

I received a message this morning from ALLy Soviet Onion. If you are in the Twin Cities area, please join the vigil outside of the jail. If you are not, please call to demand the release of all protesters being imprisoned without charges and respect for the human rights of all prisoners.

Incidentally, since yesterday, the total number of people arrested has now risen to over 800.

From the Coldsnap Legal Collective, Sept. 2nd, 2008:

Over 300 protesters, bystanders, media, and medics arrested at RNC

Two minors sentenced to 30 days in adult jail

St. Paul, MN – Two days into the Republican National Convention (RNC), more than 300 people have been arrested, including at least 120 people for felonies — mostly the notoriously vague charge, conspiracy to riot. With no provocation, police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate protesters. Police appear to be specifically targeting videographers documenting these police abuses. In response, lawyers have filed a federal restraining order against such conduct.

By the end of the day today, only 12 people had been arraigned. Many arrestees are refusing to provide identification, in order to call attention to what they consider trumped-up charges and to collectively bargain. These tactics are designed to protect the most vulnerable people in jail, and take a page from the history of labor solidarity, said Rick Kelley of Coldsnap Legal Collective, an activist-based legal collective supporting the arrestees. Based on the vagueness of their charges and the program of police intimidation currently underway, these individuals understand how they will fare if they don’t stick together. The court has been imposing the maximum bail of $2,000 for misdemeanor defendants.

In an unusual court decision, Ramsey County Judge Paulette K. Flynn today convicted two minors of criminal contempt for refusing to provide their identity. The two minors were then sentenced to 30 days in an adult jail facility. This decision undermines one of the most fundamental human rights concepts in the justice system, to protect the rights and safety of children, said Jordan Kushner, Mass Defense Committee Chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s Minnesota chapter, and an attorney for one of the minors. This shows the willingness of the courts to go to any length, including sacrificing the most important due process rights, to answer to the political pressure to persecute activists.

Many arrestees are also being denied medical attention. One arrestee with hemophilia and another with asthma are being denied their prescription medication. An arrestee with a broken finger is being refused medical care, as is a person who has been coughing up blood. An anemic woman reported to Coldsnap today that she passed out for 20 to 30 minutes due to iron deficiency and was told that she could not receive iron because it was a prescription medication, and because she refused to identify herself. Iron is in fact an over-the-counter supplement. The same anemic woman reported seeing a Sheriff knock another woman to the ground and drag her out of the room by her hair. Just because people have been jailed does not mean their health should be put in jeopardy, said Kelley. This is a matter of compassion and basic human rights. An unknown number of arrestees are also engaging in a hunger strike to put pressure on the jail to provide needed medical attention for other prisoners.

Under Minnesota law, detainees must be released after 36 hours if the court fails to review and affirm probable cause for their charges. This 36-hour period will expire at noon on Wednesday.

From Soviet Onion:

This report was released by Coldsnap on Tuesday the 2nd. It’s now Thursday the 4th, and protesters are still being held without affirmation of probable cause.

In response to the anemic woman’s denial of medication, fifty of the other women being held with her have begun a hunger strike in solidarity.

Coldsnap legal has also reported that within the jail, trans-folk in particular have been denied their phone calls, and are being placed in cells opposite the gender they identify with and in which they do not feel safe.

In addition, there are unconfirmed reports of ICE agents intimidating detainees with foreign-sounding names.

What you can do:

Right now there is a constant 24-hour vigil outside the Ramsey Co. jail house at 425 Grove St., St Paul, near the intersection of Grove and Lafayette St. Despite continuing harassment from riot police outside the jail, we are providing support and services to our friends and community members as they are released. In order to have a round the clock presence, we need lots of people to come hang out and help out at the jails. If you are interested in getting on the outtake schedule, please email Lindsey at lindshives@gmail.com. Otherwise, just show up and bring your friends! We’ll be there 24 hours throughout the RNC, starting Friday night after critical mass.

Out-of-towners can still help us put pressure on the assholes responsible by calling their offices and demanding an end to these practices:

  1. Immediate medical attention. [Jail staff are reportedly lying about medical attention being given, so don’t believe them if they say it has]

  2. Arrestees to be allowed to meet in group(s) with their lawyers.

  3. Dismissal of all charges.

  4. Release of minors from adult jail.

  5. Ensure trans folks have access to phones, attorneys, and are held with the gender group of choice

Direct your complaints to:

  • Mayor Chris Coleman, (651) 266-8510
  • Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, (651) 266-9333
  • Ramsey County Chief Judge Gearin (particularly important due to the courts being late in reviewing their charges), (651) 266-8266
  • Head of Ramsey County Jail Captain Ryan O’Neil, (651) 266-9350

See also:

Someone must have slandered Thomas W….

(Story via Freedom Democrats 2008-01-25.)

The primary reason that you should oppose government immigration laws is that the system of international apartheid is based on morally despicable premises, and necessarily involves massive State violence against peaceful people. Immigration laws involve the State in discrimination against, and violation of the basic human rights of, peaceful immigrants. But that’s not all that they do. And if you understand the stupidity and the evil of immigration laws, but don’t yet feel that you personally have a reason to stick your own neck out to actively oppose them, maybe this will help change your mind.

FLORENCE, Ariz. — Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he’s never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack’s claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.

In Warziniack’s case, ICE officials appear to have been oblivious to signs that they’d made a serious mistake.

After he was arrested in Colorado on a minor drug charge, Warziniack told probation officials there wild stories about being shot seven times, stabbed twice and bombed four times as a Russian army colonel in Afghanistan, according to court records. He also insisted that he swam ashore to America from a Soviet submarine.

Court officials were skeptical. Not only did his story seem preposterous, but the longtime heroin addict also had a Southern accent and didn’t speak Russian.

Colorado court officials quickly determined his true identity in a national crime database: He was a Minnesota-born man who grew up in Georgia. Before Warziniack was sentenced to prison on the drug charge, his probation officer surmised in a report that he could be mentally ill.

Although it took only minutes for McClatchy to confirm with Minnesota officials that a birth certificate under Warziniack’s name and birth date was on file, Colorado prison officials notified federal authorities that Warziniack was a foreign-born prisoner.

McClatchy also was able to track down Warziniack’s three half-sisters. Even though they hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years, his sisters were willing to vouch for him.

One of them, Missy Dolle, called the detention center repeatedly, until officials there stopped returning her calls. Her brother’s attorney told her that a detainee in Warziniack’s situation often has to wait weeks for results, even if he or she gets a copy of a U.S. birth certificate.

Warziniack, meanwhile, waited impatiently for an opportunity to prove his case. After he contacted the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, a group that provides legal advice to immigrants, a local attorney recently agreed to represent him for free.

Dolle and her husband, Keith, a retired sheriff’s deputy in Mecklenburg County, N.C., flew to Arizona from their Charlotte home to attend her brother’s hearing before an immigration judge.

Before she left, she e-mailed Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. After someone from his office contacted ICE, immigration officials promised to release Warziniack if they got a birth certificate.

After scrambling to get a power of attorney to obtain their brother’s birth certificate, the sisters succeeded in getting a copy the day before the hearing.

On Thursday, however, government lawyers told an immigration judge during a deportation hearing that they needed a week to verify the authenticity of Warziniack’s birth record. The judge delayed his ruling.

I still can’t believe this is happening in America, Dolle said.

Warziniack began to weep when he saw his sister. They still don’t believe me, he said.

Later that day, however, ICE officials changed their minds and said that he could be released this week.

— Marisa Taylor, McClatchy Washington Bureau (2008-01-24): Immigration officials detaining, deporting American citizens

In the real world, outside of statist power trip la-la land, if you grabbed somebody off the street and locked him up in a hellhole jail cell against his will all through a complete mistake, and you kept him there and stole weeks of his life away from him, all the while failing to notice your fuck-up because of your arrogance and negligence, you would pay for what you did. You’d pay for it on a civil level in the form of restitution to your victim, and you’d pay for it on a criminal level with charges of kidnapping. Morally, the immigration cops who did this should be in jail. But, wait–once you strap on a badge and a gun, suddenly some sanctimonious buck-passing and excuse-making, with an Oops, our bad tacked on along the way, is close enough for government work:

On Thursday, Warziniack finally became a free man. Immigration officials released him after his family, who learned about his predicament from McClatchy, produced a birth certificate and after a U.S. senator demanded his release.

The immigration agents told me they never make mistakes, Warziniack said in an earlier phone interview from jail. All I know is that somebody dropped the ball.

Officials with ICE, the federal agency that oversees deportations, maintain that such cases are isolated because agents are required to obtain sufficient evidence that someone is an illegal immigrant before making an arrest. However, they don’t track the number of U.S. citizens who are detained or deported.

We don’t want to detain or deport U.S. citizens, said Ernestine Fobbs, an ICE spokeswoman. It’s just not something we do.

… ICE’s Fobbs said agents move as quickly as possible to check stories of people who claim they’re American citizens. But she said that many of the cases involve complex legal arguments, such as whether U.S. citizenship is derived from parents, which an immigration judge has to sort out.

We have to be careful we don’t release the wrong person, she said.

— Marisa Taylor, McClatchy Washington Bureau (2008-01-24): Immigration officials detaining, deporting American citizens

Of course, if you really give a damn about avoiding mistakes, you might actually take some steps towards investigating, presuming innocence, and following some kind of basic due process before you throw living people down a legal memory hole. But that would require actually granting suspected illegal immigrants the as good or better legal privileges and immunities as are offered to suspects in a normal court proceeding, rather than presumptively throwing them into a detention center and then running them through a parallel, unaccountable administrative process for today’s federal Fugitive Alien Law. And what La Migra gives a damn about is proving to bellowing Know-Nothing busybodies that they are doing something to crack down on illegal immigration–the lives, liberties, and livelihoods of bystanders be damned.

An unpublished study by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization, in 2006 identified 125 people in immigration detention centers across the nation who immigration lawyers believed had valid U.S. citizenship claims.

Vera initially focused on six facilities where most of the cases surfaced. The organization later broadened its analysis to 12 sites and plans to track the outcome of all cases involving citizens.

Nina Siulc, the lead researcher, said she thinks that many more American citizens probably are being erroneously detained or deported every year because her assessment looked at only a small number of those in custody. Each year, about 280,000 people are held on immigration violations at 15 federal detention centers and more than 400 state and local contract facilities nationwide.

Unlike suspects charged in criminal courts, detainees accused of immigration violations don’t have a right to an attorney, and three-quarters of them represent themselves. Less affluent or resourceful U.S. citizens who are detained must try to maneuver on their own through a complicated system.

It becomes your word against the government’s, even when you know and insist that you’re a U.S. citizen, Siulc said. Your word doesn’t always count, and the government doesn’t always investigate fully.

While immigration advocates agree that the agents generally release detainees before deportation in clear-cut cases, they said that ICE sometimes ignores valid assertions of citizenship in the rush to ship out more illegal immigrants.

Proving citizenship is especially difficult for the poor, mentally ill, disabled or anyone who has trouble getting a copy of his or her birth certificate while behind bars.

Pedro Guzman, a mentally disabled U.S. citizen who was born in Los Angeles, was serving a 120-day sentence for trespassing last year when he was shipped off to Mexico. Guzman was found three months later trying to return home. Although federal government attorneys have acknowledged that Guzman was a citizen, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Thursday that her agency still questions the validity of his birth certificate.

Last March, ICE agents in San Francisco detained Kebin Reyes, a 6-year-old boy who was born in the U.S., for 10 hours after his father was picked up in a sweep. His father says he wasn’t permitted to call relatives who could care for his son, although ICE denies turning down the request.

The number of U.S. citizens who are swept up in the immigration system is a small fraction of the number of illegal immigrants who are deported, but in the last several years immigration lawyers report seeing more detainees who turn out to be U.S. citizens.

The attorneys said the chances of mistakes are growing as immigration agents step up sweeps in the country and state and local prisons with less experience in immigration matters screen more criminals on behalf of ICE.

[ICE officials] said they were able to confirm [Warziniack’s] birth certificate, but they didn’t acknowledge any problem with the handling of the case.

The officials blamed conflicting information for the mix-up.

The burden of proof is on the individual to show they’re legally entitled to be in the United States, said ICE spokeswoman Kice.

I want to stress that the point here is not that this kind of treatment is wrong because the people being treated this way aren’t really illegal immigrants. I’m not saying that we need procedural protections for suspects because it’s better for a hundred guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be punished. That’s not my point because morally, illegal immigrants aren’t guilty of a damned thing. U.S. citizens aren’t entitled to special treatment just because they are Estadounidenses; they’re entitled to be treated better than this because they are people. If there is no excuse for making U.S. citizens disappearing into legal limbo in a system of prisons and administrative law where they have no real civil liberties and no recourse to due process protections, and no excuse for trashing their lives and livelihoods by locking them up and exiling them from their homes, on the unspeakably arrogant presumption that it’s the citizen who has to prove to the government’s satisfaction that she has a right to live peacefully in her own home, then there’s no excause because there’s no excuse for treating anyone that way, no matter what their nationality and whether or not they have a permission slip to exist from the federal government. The thing itself is the abuse.

But the point that I do want to make is that if you’re a U.S. citizen, and you’re not convinced of the central importance of immigration law–if you believe that you can reliably secure your own freedom without paying attention to the way that governments treat undocumented immigrants–then you need to think a lot harder about what a system of immigration control necessarily entails. International apartheid requires mechanisms for detecting, and then either interdicting or rounding up, unauthorized immigrants. But to discover and then interfere with their presence in the country, it necessarily entails a system of paramilitary border control, and it also necessarily entails immigration dossiers, passbooks, and government surveillance. But these systems have to be inflicted both on citizens and on immigrants for them to make any sense at all; by definition, the government can’t discover immigrants who bypass the official documentation system by getting documentation of their undocumented status, so instead the border control State has to force everyone else to carry papers, to submit to La Migra’s surveillance, and to take on the burden of giving affirmative proof of our status whenever some prick with a clipboard demands it. There’s no way to block off opportunities for undocumented immigrants to move or to get jobs except by limiting everyone’s freedom of motion or employment to government-controlled chokepoints where papers can be demanded and inspected. And there’s no way to make undocumented immigrants disappear into legal limbo without also, at the same time, creating an ominous threat to any citizen who might come under La Migra’s suspicion or might have trouble producing her own papers on demand. There is no way for international apartheid to be enforced on immigrants without massive invasions on the privacy and liberties of non-immigrants, because the basic concept — the concept of a government with the power and prerogative to systematically screen who is and who is not allowed to exist within its territory — requires everybody, whether their presence is authorized or unauthorized by the government, to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.

What immigration law does to illegal immigrants is despicable. There is no excuse and it should be abolished immediately. But if you, reader, recognize this, but still don’t see how it personally concerns you, then you should look harder at the effects that immigration law necessarily inflicts on the rest of us in everyday life. Immigrant and citizen, documented and undocumented, the fact is that we are all in this together, and if we let the State spy and stomp on any of us, the system for implementing the policy is necessarily going to spy and stomp on all of us in the end.