Sunday, June 1, 2008

Washington Post Provides Excellent Reporting On Immigration Issue

The Washington Post has been doing an excellent job covering immigration-related issues. Eristic Ragemail has been lax in putting hyperlinks to their articles but we will attempt to rectify that oversight in this posting. Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein stand out for their tenacious reporting. We encourage our good readers to check out the Post’s website and catch up on some really insightful reading.

Immigration raid spurs calls for action vs. owners


The Associated Press
Sunday, June 1, 2008
; 1:48 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa -- After the biggest immigration raid in U.S. history, hundreds of workers have been sentenced but not one company official as yet faces any charges _ something critics say is typical of a federal government that is tough on employees but easy on owners.

Worker advocates and lawmakers say the fact that nearly 400 workers were arrested in the May 12 raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville _ or more than one-third of the total number of employees _ proves that company officials must have known they were hiring illegal immigrants….

"I'll be interested to see if federal authorities will be bringing any charges against the employer," Braley said in a telephone interview.

Braley has questioned the cost of the Postville raid as well as an operation at Swift & Co. plants in Marshalltown and five other Midwest cities in 2006. Although federal agents arrested about 1,300 workers in raids at the Swift plants, Braley noted that no top company officials were charged. [Full Story contained at link below]

Arizona's Immigration Two-Step

By Lee Hockstader

Monday, April 21, 2008; Page A15

PHOENIX -- Traumatized by a tidal wave of illegal immigrants, Arizona last year enacted the nation's most pitiless law to punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Now state lawmakers, having proved that they mean business -- even if it means killing off businesses -- are reconnecting with reality: They want to import Mexican workers….

But they kept some provisions businesses hated, including one allowing prosecutors to act on anonymous tips about undocumented workers.

The law had the desired effect. Immigrant neighborhoods in Phoenix started emptying out. Some employers called in suspect workers and fired those who admitted lacking proper documents. In Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has cultivated an image as a Bull Connor for the nativist crowd, took the law as a green light to round up and harass Hispanics. … having done its utmost to have undocumented Hispanics fired and driven from the state, Arizona has now decided it badly needs low-skilled labor after all.

Careless Detention: Medical Care in Immigration Prisons

System of Neglect

As Tighter Immigration Policies Strain Federal Agencies, The Detainees in Their Care Often Pay a Heavy Cost

by Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein | Washington Post Staff Writers

May 11, 2008

Near midnight on a California spring night, armed guards escorted Yusif Osman into an immigration prison ringed by concertina wire at the end of a winding, isolated road.

During the intake screening, a part-time nurse began a computerized medical file on Osman, a routine procedure for any person entering the vast prison network the government has built for foreign detainees across the country. But the nurse pushed a button and mistakenly closed file #077-987-986 and marked it "completed" -- even though it had no medical information in it.

Three months later, at 2 in the morning on June 27, 2006, the native of Ghana collapsed in Cell 206 at the Otay Mesa immigrant detention center outside San Diego. His cellmate hit the intercom button, yelling to guards that Osman was on the floor suffering from chest pains. A guard peered through the window into the dim cell and saw the detainee on the ground, but did not go in. Instead, he called a clinic nurse to find out whether Osman had any medical problems.

When the nurse opened the file and found it blank, she decided there was no emergency and said Osman needed to fill out a sick call request. The guard went on a lunch break.

The cellmate yelled again. Another guard came by, looked in and called the nurse. This time she wanted Osman brought to the clinic. Forty minutes passed before guards brought a wheelchair to his cell. By then it was too late: Osman was barely alive when paramedics reached him. He soon died. …

The detainees have less access to lawyers than convicted murderers in maximum-security prisons and some have fewer comforts than al-Qaeda terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But they are not terrorists. Most are working-class men and women or indigent laborers who made mistakes that seem to pose no threat to national security: a Salvadoran who bought drugs in his 20th year of poverty in Los Angeles; a U.S. legal U.S. resident from Mexico who took $50 for driving two undocumented day laborers into a border city. Or they are waiting for political asylum from danger in their own countries: a Somali without a valid visa trying to prove she would be killed had she remained in her village; a journalist who fled Congo out of fear for his life, worked as a limousine driver and fathered six American children, but never was able to get the asylum he sought.

The most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen, according to a Post investigation.

Original Government Documents, RE Medical Care

DHS Will Face Questions on Care of Detained Immigrants

By Spencer S. Hsu

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top lawmakers in Congress criticized the Department of Homeland Security yesterday for failing to provide adequate medical care to detained immigrants, and said they plan to demand explanations today from Secretary Michael Chertoff and Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) announced that Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and others will question Chertoff and Myers in a meeting today about reports of medical negligence and deaths of immigrants in ICE detention, as well as improper detentions of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

Immigrants Can Linger In Detention for Months

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Foreigners detained by immigration officials spent an average of 37 days in custody during fiscal 2007, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Detainees, though, can be held for a much longer or much shorter time, depending on their circumstances. Under a practice that was expanded during the summer of 2006, undocumented immigrants caught within 100 miles of the Mexican border -- and within 14 days of their entry into the United States -- are deported swiftly under an "expedited removal" program. These immigrants usually do not have a hearing before a judge. On the other hand, some immigrants are detained for months or even years if they challenge their deportation in federal courts.

Here is a breakdown of time in custody for fiscal 2006, the most recent information ICE could provide. The figures exclude nearly 5,800 detainees who are seeking asylum.

Less than three months 206,325

Three to six months 10,828

Six to nine months 2,644

Nine months to one year 1,269

More than one year 1,809

In Custody, In Pain

Beset by Medical Problems as She Fights Deportation, A U.S. Resident Struggles to Get the Treatment She Needs

by Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest | Washington Post Staff Writers

Page A1; May 12, 2008

FLORENCE, Ariz. -- Underneath her baggy jail-issue pants, Yong Sun Harvill feels the soft lump just below her left knee. Sometimes it tingles. Sometimes it is numb. Like her cancer felt when it arrived behind the knee a few years ago.

She noticed the lump under the thin, blue cotton in August, five months after federal immigration officers, to her amazement, took her into custody to try to deport her for buying stolen jewelry more than a decade ago. The lump grows slowly. It is now three inches across. And though she keeps asking, no one has done a test to see whether her sarcoma has come back. …

Harvill is one of 33,000 immigration detainees in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, on any given day. They are locked up in a patchwork of out-of-the-way federal detention compounds, private prisons and local jails. This unnoticed prison system was built for a quick revolving door of detainees -- into custody, out of the country. But often, people linger in detention for months or years.

Some Detainees Are Drugged For Deportation

Immigrants Sedated Without Medical Reason

by Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest | Washington Post Staff Writers

May 14, 2008

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.

The government's forced use of antipsychotic drugs, in people who have no history of mental illness, includes dozens of cases in which the "pre-flight cocktail," as a document calls it, had such a potent effect that federal guards needed a wheelchair to move the slumped deportee onto an airplane.

"Unsteady gait. Fell onto tarmac," says a medical note on the deportation of a 38-year-old woman to Costa Rica in late spring 2005. Another detainee was "dragged down the aisle in handcuffs, semi-comatose," according to an airline crew member's written account. Repeatedly, documents describe immigration guards "taking down" a reluctant deportee to be tranquilized before heading to an airport.

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