Tuesday, April 14, 2009

News: US Citizens Illegaly Deported

From ABC News / The Associated Press:

Pedro Guzman has been an American citizen all his life. Yet in 2007, the 31-year-old Los Angeles native — in jail for a misdemeanor, mentally ill and never able to read or write — signed a waiver agreeing to leave the country without a hearing and was deported to Mexico as an illegal immigrant.
He's not the only one:

In a drive to crack down on illegal immigrants, the United States has locked up or thrown out dozens, probably many more, of its own citizens over the past eight years. A monthslong AP investigation has documented 55 such cases, on the basis of interviews, lawsuits and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These citizens are detained for anything from a day to five years. Immigration lawyers say there are actually hundreds of such cases.

It is illegal to deport U.S. citizens or detain them for immigration violations. Yet citizens still end up in detention because the system is overwhelmed, acknowledged Victor Cerda, who left Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2005 after overseeing the system. The number of detentions overall is expected to rise by about 17 percent this year to more than 400,000, putting a severe strain on the enforcement network and legal system.

The result is the detention of citizens with the fewest resources: the mentally ill, minorities, the poor, children and those with outstanding criminal warrants, ranging from unpaid traffic tickets to failure to show up for probation hearings. Most at risk are Hispanics, who made up the majority of the cases the AP found.

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"... o're the land of the free, and the home of the brave," right?

So, essentially, over the past eight years, US citizens have not been free in their own land. People who are citizens of this country, and disproportionately the mentally ill, children, and minorities, are being kicked out for no reason. If you think back to the Stat of the Day that centered on the increase in hate crimes, on of the new factors is crimes against Latinos due to the recent immigration debate.

So, we can see one of the nasty effects of racism in this country: people automatically assume that Latinos or Asians or blacks with African accents are here illegally. Are people so paranoid when it comes to someone with a British accent? Do we fear being taken over by the French and Germans? No. Clearly this debate on immigration is racially tinged, and is spilling over to impact the lives of American citizens. To make it worse, I fully expect the many will pay such offenses little mind, because racism has so warped our minds to think that such actions are justified, just as after 9/11 many felt it was completely reasonable to profile anyone who appeared Middle-Eastern.

The more I read and learn the more a realize how little this country has actually changed.

1 comment:

rockync said...

I have just become aware of this with the story of Mr Guzman and I am horrified! I certainly hope with our new administration that this kind of injustice will be addressed and rectified.
I did find what you said here interesting:
"people automatically assume that Latinos or Asians or blacks with African accents are here illegally."
While I don't think all foreigners are here illegally, I do live in an area of the South where we have many Hispanics (mostly from Mexico). Because many of them were born in Mexico,I am accustomed to the accent and I expect it, so it is always a surprise to meet a Hispanic that speaks with a Southern accent!