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Spotlight on Detention: Illuminating the Darkest ‘Shadows’ of Our Immigration System

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Detention cell

When immigration reform advocates point out that our current immigration system is badly broken, many Americans say, “Why don’t we don’t just enforce our laws as they are?” 

On the surface, it sounds feasible. Especially if you’ve never waited a decade to reunite with a loved one or watched heads of companies get off with a mere slap on the wrist while their often-exploited immigrant laborers are rounded up and left to rot in immigration prisons — or railroaded through sham trials that even the court-appointed interpreters protest. Look back to the Agriprocessors raid in Postville, Iowa for a refresher course in immigration injustice.

What it comes down to is that broken laws can’t be enforced blindly. They must be fixed.

Here’s the latest blatant example of the system’s decadence, from a piece in the New York Times on immigration detention, entitled, “Piecing Together an Immigrant’s Life the U.S. Refused to See.” It details the untimely death of Tanveer Ahmad in a substandard immigration jail:

When the 43-year-old man died in a New Jersey immigration jail in 2005, the very fact seemed to fall into a black hole. Although a fellow inmate scrawled a note telling immigrant advocates that the detainee’s symptoms of a heart attack had long gone unheeded, government officials would not even confirm that the dead man had existed. […]