Thursday, July 29, 2010

OPINION: It’s Time For A Much More Humane Immigration Policy

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

Citizens of Mexico, especially poor people living along the U.S./Mexico border, take for granted that if they are picked up by local, state or federal Mexican police agents they will be abused, extorted and, depending upon what the police have decided to charge them with, tortured.
The very poorest of those people, the homeless, jobless, hungry, who try to cross into the U.S. have found the same uncaring, brutal, attitude among officers of the U.S. Border Patrol and guards and agents of ICE…Immigration and Customs Enforcement….in detention centers where they are dumped after being apprehended. If they have anything of value they will probably lose it, if they complain of illness, injury or mistreatment they will be, at the least, ignored or in many reported instances, physically abused.
According to polls taken in Arizona and around the county concerning public attitudes toward Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law, soon to take effect….a majority of people simply don’t care about the fate of “illegal” migrants and immigrants. But some people do care. They continue to document and report abuses experienced in detention by deported people. The following interviews took place June 14-18,2010 with deportees arriving in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Hopefully, these and hundreds of such reports will, in time, convince both countries that a realistic and humane immigration policy is long overdue, despite the fear tactics built into the issue by the radical right, racists and Fox News right wing propagandists.
A 47 year old man from Nayarit walked in the desert for three days, he had severely blistered feet when taken into custody. As the interview was being conducted he was being treated by a volunteer EMT. He said he was held in a Border Patrol detention center near Why, Arizona and requested medical aid for his feet. He was told “later” and was then held for two days without receiving any treatment. This man reported that upon arriving at the detention center near Why agents went through his belongings and those of other detainees and specifically disposed of all identification, any cell phones and lists of phone numbers.
He reported that songs known as “migracorridos) (morbid story songs of deaths in the desert) were played at high volume 24 hours a day; and that every two hours guards would come in shouting at the detainees and require them to line up for inspection. He said some detainees were suffering from sleep deprivation and the extremely cold temperatures maintained in their cells blocks. They were always refused blankets.
In an interview June 17 a man and a woman from Mexico City who had been held in a Border Patrol detention center in Tucson reported they had a witnessed a young man being beaten by agents.
They said the young man had been near the women’s cell talking with his wife. A Border Patrol agent shouted at him, he could not speak English and did not answer . Two agents grabbed him and held him while a third agent kicked and beat him. This couple also reported that their quarters were kept extremely cold and guards refused to give the detainees blankets.
This next report seems to indicate that in Maricopa County (Phoenix) some Sheriff’s deputies find money just waiting to be taken. In an interview June 18 a 35 year old man from Tempe reported he was stopped by a Maricopa County deputy sheriff about 11 p.m. May 9 while driving near Casa Grande. He was accused of being a drug trafficker, beaten around the head and ordered to surrender all his money. He gave up, he said, $1200. He never saw it again although he reported what had happened to other officers while in detention in Tempe. They did nothing. He was never charged, although held until being deported to Nogales on May 28th.
Do you think something just may have gone very, very wrong with American values? We have been told, over and over, (haven’t we,?) these kinds of things just don’t, can’t, happen in America.
Yeah! Right!…as they say.

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