The country needs to confront the [immigration] issue, to lift the fear that pervades immigrant communities, to better harness the energy of immigrant workers, to protect American workers from off-the-books competition. What’s been happening as the endless wait for reform drags on has been ugly.
When the Obama administration vowed to overhaul immigration detention last year, its promise of more humane treatment and accountability was spurred in part by the harrowing treatment of two detainees who died in the Bush years.
In one case, captured by security cameras in 2008, a Chinese computer engineer was dragged from a Rhode Island immigration jail and mocked by guards as he screamed in pain from undiagnosed cancer and a broken spine. In the other, a Salvadoran detainee held for two years in a California detention center was denied a biopsy for a painful penile lesion, though government doctors suspected the cancer that eventually required amputation of his penis.
But on Wednesday, the administration argued in federal court that the government had no liability for neglect or abuse by private contractors running the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., where the computer engineer was held.
We must continue to demand accountability in our sprawling immigrant detention system. In addition, we must work to pass real immigration reform that creates an ordered, legal process for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, register, and obtain the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans. Right now, there are millions of workers and families for whom that process does not exist, and so we continue to face a crisis in which employers can arbitrarily exploit workers, families can be separated without notice, and an increasing number of men and women are sent to languish in these unaccountable detention facilities.
If that’s not a reason to hit the streets, I don’t know what is.
Captain Kirk Williamson listened to the students, and commented:
The country needs to confront the issue, to lift the fear that pervades immigrant communities, to better harness the energy of immigrant workers, to protect American workers from off-the-books competition. What’s been happening as the endless wait for reform drags on has been ugly.
Conventional wisdom in DC insists that immigration reform is dead, though we know differently. The challenges of twelve million undocumented persons – a significant portion of the population – cannot go ignored, and immigration champions in Congress are daily doing their part to help President Obama keep his promise on immigration reform, which also means helping the President keep his promise to create jobs for all Americans and boost the economy. Here’s an argument for reform from David Gushee, a university professor at Mercer University:
Moving millions of workers out of the shadows and into the light would end this black-market economy. It would restore fairness to this part of the labor market and would also increase tax revenues. To the extent that these immigrant workers would gain health insurance, it would also reduce the financial pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms that now provide unreimbursed care in emergency situations. It would also lead to currently illegal immigrants paying for other social services that they now receive at the expense of legal taxpayers.
As Americans lose their jobs in this frighteningly frail economy, deporting immigrants and their families, which costs approximately ______ a year, is not only extraordinarily harmful to the economic health of our country, but also incredibly “un-American,” as Nancy Pelosi so cleverly put it.
How can it not be? T it was reported that Charles Washington, an American citizen, will soon lose his Australian wife, Tracy, and her two children. The reason? Her 13 year old son jokingly punched another boy and stole 46 cents.
Talk about the punishment not fitting the crime…the San Francisco Chronicle reportson the difficulty Mr. Washington faces trying to keep his family together:
Washington said he can’t move to Australia because he would lose contact with his daughter, whose custody he shares with her mother. He said the situation is particularly hard on his 5-year-old stepson – “I’m the only one he’s known as dad” – and he hopes to visit them in Australia.
So this year, for the millions in this country who consider America their home, many of whom live with the threat of losing their loved ones every day, join us in standing up for keeping families together and march for immigration reform.