Friday, September 30, 2011

NYT: "Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit"

very good article by Nina Bernstein of the New York Times

[Excerpted] "It was just a small part of a pattern on three continents where a handful of multinational security companies have been turning crackdowns on immigration into a growing global industry...

But the ballooning of privatized detention has been accompanied by scathing inspection reports, lawsuits and the documentation of widespread abuse and neglect, sometimes lethal. Human rights groups say detention has neither worked as a deterrent nor speeded deportation, as governments contend, and some worry about the creation of a “detention-industrial complex” with a momentum of its own...."

MAJIA HERE: Read the entire story linked above. BELOW please find an exerpt from my book GOVERNING CHILDHOOD concerning the treatment of illegal immigrants by the growing private security complex.

The U.S. National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights argues in a report titled Human Rights and Human Security at Risk that abusive and discriminatory immigration enforcement was exacerbated by the re-location of immigration enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003 (Nimr, Tactaquin, and Garcia).
The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report in 2007 detailing that the number of immigrants detained between 2002 and 2007 grew from 90,000 to 283,000. The report claims that detainees were often improperly barred from making a single phone call to a lawyer (cited in Hsu “No Phone” A2). In February of 2009 Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner reported publicly that 108,000 deportees had children who were legally U.S. citizens (Gamboa A21). Failure to explain what happened to the citizen children of deported parents raises the specters of forcibly abandoned children and deportations of child citizens.

The U.S. government treats illegal immigrants as criminals although most have not committed any crimes beyond their illegal entry and many detainees have committed only minor administrative violations such as overstaying their visas (“Death”). As reported by Hsu in The Washington Post

Federal law enforcement agencies have increased criminal prosecutions of immigration violators to record levels, in part by filing minor charges against virtually every person caught illegally crossing some stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to new U.S. data. (Hsu “Immigration Prosecution” A1)

In May 2008 a raid of a meatpacking plant in Iowa resulted in criminal prosecution of 297 illegal immigrants. The decision to sentence the immigrants under federal criminal, rather than civil statutes, led to 5 months of imprisonment followed by immediate deportation (Weintraub).

Growing numbers of immigrants are subject to incarceration before deportation. Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, argued in 2008 that “Homeland Security is one of the largest jailers in the world, ‘but it behaves like a lawless local sheriff’'' (cited in Bernstein B3). Since 2004, 83 immigrants have died in retention centers: critics claim detainees are routinely denied basic rights, such as medical care, visitation, and legal materials (Bernstein B3; Bernstein and Preston A18; Gorman B5).
The Homeland Security Department Inspector General reported in 2006 that an audit of 5 publicly and privately operated detention centers found all were out of compliance with general standards on health care, disciplinary procedures, and access to legal materials. Inexplicably, the 5 had been rated “acceptable” in the immigration agency’s annual reviews (cited in Bernstein B3).
A separate report criticizing practices of immigrant detention issued in 2007 noted that at the privately run Hutto detention center in Texas, women received inadequate prenatal care, children received only 1 hour of schooling daily, children as young as 6 were separated from their parents, and threats of separation were used as “disciplinary tools” (Swarns B17).

Detention facilities have followed the trajectory set by the outsourcing of U.S. prisons. The Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group have successfully contracted with the federal government to provide immigration detention services (Gorman B5). The federal government also contracts with state and local jails and criminal detention centers to hold immigrant detainees.
Private contractors are not subject to the same freedom of information (FOI) provisions applicable to government run agencies and private criminal detention centers treat immigrants as if they were criminals. Consequently, a GAO report concludes, "Without sufficient internal control policies and procedures in place, ICE is unable to offer assurance that detainees can access legal services, file external grievances and obtain assistance from their consulates" (cited in Hsu “No Phone” A2). Immigrants continue to be denied basic rights and due process because of the lack of universal, enforceable standards governing detention (Bernstein B3).
Public sentiment increasingly allows this type of sovereign intervention and incarceration despite the protests of immigration and religious groups and despite a majority consensus among Americans that immigrants are hard working and create jobs (Constable A15)....

The practices of detaining, incarcerating, targeting, and punishing children for adult conflicts contradict the principles of child protection codified in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, (General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989). Entered into force 2 September 1990, Article 37 of the Convention states:

No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age; No child shall be deprived of his liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. . . . (


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