Debates continue over immigration policies, including detention and deportation, and pathways to citizenship

5 Apr

Post written by: Naomi Beyeler

In the News, March 25 – April 2, 2012

In light of increasing reports of mistreatment and neglect in detention centers, resulting in high rates of abuse, injury, and death among the 30,000+ immigrants awaiting deportation, the Federal government proposed new rules to protect basic human rights of those in detention.

These rules now face criticism from Republicans and the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing federal officers in charge of detention and deportation. In a hearing organized by Republicans, titled “Holiday on ICE”, Republican leaders charged that the new rules turned detention into “recess,” while the head of the union critiqued the new rules because of concerns that they weaken security for ICE officers.

However, advocates for immigrants’ health and safety emphasize that the new laws will not provide a “holiday” but are simply the first necessary step in protecting basic human rights. For example, under the new laws, people in detention will gain rights including: access to safe drinking water and medical care, prohibitions on strip searches by agents of the opposite sex, and protections against participation in clinical trials without informed consent. In addition, while acknowledging that these are important steps to protect the basic health of detainees, advocates for immigrants rights continue to highlight the greater problems associated with detention and deportation, arguing that people should not be placed in detention simply for immigration reasons.

Also, debates continue about the creation of potential pathways to citizenship for immigrant youth who have spent their lives in the U.S. Unwilling to support the full DREAM Act – which offers citizenship for students who attend college or join the military – Republicans, including Marco Rubio, introduced proposals that will only provide legal status, thereby preventing access to the basic rights of full citizenship, such as voting.

Latino immigrants aren’t the only group of people facing the racism and violence prevalent in our communities and our immigration policies. In Southern California an Iraqi woman was murdered, and found with a hateful note left next to her. Discrimination and targeting of Muslim communities isn’t simply the product of individual actions; recent reports from the ACLU show that around the country the FBI is spying on Muslim groups in mosques, universities, and community organizations.

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