Apply for Asylum in the US, Be Thrown to Jail Together with Your Kids

The US is the land of freedom and opportunity, as long as you’re not an asylum seeker. Lawmakers who’re more concerned with making sure absolutely no third-worlder gets in unless he really has to than with respecting basic human rights passed legislation to imprison asylum seekers and their families pending trial. Just on the off chance you’re not the type who clicks links,

In fact, nearly half of [Hutto Prison’s] 400 or so residents are children, including infants and toddlers.

The inmates are immigrants or children of immigrants who are in deportation proceedings. Many of them are in the process of applying for political asylum, refugees from violence-plagued and impoverished countries like Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Somalia and Palestine. (Since there are different procedures for Mexican immigrants, the facility houses no Mexicans.)

In the past, most of them would have been free to work and attend school as their cases moved through immigration courts. “Prior to Hutto, they were releasing people into the community,” says Nicole Porter, director of the Prison and Jail Accountability Project for the ACLU of Texas. “These are non-criminals and nonviolent individuals who have not committed any crime against the U.S. There are viable alternatives to requiring them to live in a prison setting and wear uniforms.”

But as a result of increasingly stringent immigration enforcement policies, today more than 22,000 undocumented immigrants are being detained, up from 6,785 in 1995, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Normally, men and women are detained separately and minors, if they are detained at all, live in residential facilities with social services and schools. But under the auspices of “keeping families together,” children and parents are incarcerated together at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, as it is now called, and at a smaller facility in Berks County, Penn. Attorneys for detainees say the children are only allowed one hour of schooling, in English, and one hour of recreation per day.

“It’s just a concentration camp by another name,” says John Wheat Gibson, a Dallas attorney representing two Palestinian families in the facility.

In addition, there have been reports of inadequate healthcare and nutrition.

If you’re brave enough to venture to the comment thread, which features such gems as “The violence is here because of illegal aliens” (and still the 1990s saw both a massive influx of illegal immigrants into the US and a drastic drop in crime), go help Jenny respond to the xenophobes.

There’s certainly a big chunk of the population everywhere that sees foreigners as less than human. Forget unfounded statements like “Liberals are only about the right of icky people to do icky things”; the real outrage about liberals is that they support the right of people of the wrong nationality to have basic human dignity. Ironically, a US population that by and large believes in offering illegal immigrants legal status – in Texas it’s 59-35 – has no trouble with treating immigrants like subhumans.

Although this attitude isn’t restricted to the US, in the US it’s worse than in most other areas of at least the developed world. People in Germany and France and Norway watch American movies, travel to neighboring countries often, and have friends from more than one country. In the US outside a few big coastal cities like New York or Los Angeles, a person can live his whole life not knowing that there exists a world outside US borders. It’s The Gods Must Have Gone Crazy on a larger scale.

It’s of course not ignorance alone that has produced this. Israelis, who know very well that there exists a world outside their country, abuse foreigners all the time, for example by needlessly strip-searching at the airport. But Israel is somewhat of a special case; evidently, Germany, which is overall a lot less into immigrants’ rights than the US is, doesn’t commit those atrocities, or at least hasn’t in 60 years.

4 Responses to Apply for Asylum in the US, Be Thrown to Jail Together with Your Kids

  1. Ran Halprin says:

    Bullshit. I’ve worked in Airport security in Israel during one of the worst times for security in Israel, 2002. There is no strip searching in Israel, even for Palestinians affiliated with terrorist organizations (I personally checked one of these, I think he was a rather high member of Hamas before they were elected).
    The only country I know of in which airport security searches in your underpants is Germany.

    And then you ask why people claim you are anti-Israeli? You just take pleasure in inventing bad things to say about Israel?

  2. Ran Halprin says:

    Oops, scratch that. Seems like there is another country that strip searches, and it just happens to be yours. Would you now post and demand that the UN boycott the US?

    http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/cgi-bin/blogs/voices.php/2006/09/24/p11009

  3. Alon Levy says:

    There is no strip searching in Israel

    Tell that to the woman who runs what used to be my father’s company in Singapore.

  4. Ran Halprin says:

    I’m not gonna argue with someone who can’t answer. All I can state is:
    1. During my work there I did not participate in nor see any nor heard about any case of strip search. I have once been kissed on the cheek by a young Japanese woman for speeding up her process, thats about as close it got to any stripping.
    2. During my training, I’ve not been taught a checking protocol that involves removal of any cloth item, apart from metals. It is simply not necessary.

    Perhaps she has done something extreme that made her be taken into custody of the Israeli secret service? During my work there I did not see any such case (including bonafide terrorists, as mentioned above), so I couldn’t imagine what she might have done – but I guess its a possibility.

    I don’t see you changing your post re Germany and US being more keen of strip searches then Israel. Why is that?

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