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Posts Tagged ‘migrant military complex’

Obama Officially Commits to Reform Defense Contracting

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Okay, so this is not exactly related to immigration, but I do work for the Quakers so I can’t help but celebrate just a wee-bit here too (and I do plan to bring it full circle by the end of the post…I promise).

Today, President Obama joined a bi-partisan group of Congresspersons dedicated to reforming defense contracting. He has officially committed to this cause and rejected the false choice between “securing this nation and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.”

According to a GAO report last year, cost overruns in major defense projects totaled $295 billion. That’s a lot of wasted money. But we over here at FCNL have been saying that for a long time, and we’ve been saying a lot more about military spending too.

But now–to bring this full circle after all and perhaps prove my obsession with immigration issues–I can’t help but wonder: Will Obama’s commitment to reform defense contracting also include no-bid contracts with defense companies and contracting abuse on projects regarding immigration like the southern border wall or immigrant detention centers?

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Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday February 9th-Monday February 16th.

VIDEO: President Obama Talks About Immigration with Univision
This video shows Univision’s coverage from their interview with President Obama. The conversation discusses comprehensive immigration reform, legalization, and current enforcement practices like raids.

Political Economy of Immigration

This Border Lines blog post discusses the political economy of immigration as we enter into a new administration. In particular, the post distinguishes the politics of fear which have driven the immigration debate over the last few years from the realities of the current economy.

Bad Economy Forcing Immigrants to Reconsider U.S.
This CNN article discusses the effects the current economy is having on immigration and immigrants. With fewer jobs on the market, many immigrants are returning to their home countries; others are choosing to stick it out as their home countries have been hit even harder by the economic crisis.

Liberians Facing Mass Deportations from U.S.

On March 31st, thousands of Liberian refugees will face deportation as their Temporary Protected Status visa–which has provided many of these people with protected status in the United States for over 18 years–expires. Communities where there is a large Liberian population are questioning what will happen to their communities? To their businesses? And to the American-born children and family members that are left behind? Many Liberians fear going back to a country which drove them away in a bloody civil war and currently still faces mass unemployment.

NPR: Immigration Crackdown Overwhelms Judge

This NPR piece discusses the effects the current immigration crackdown has on the judicial system. Discussing issues from court backlogs, lack of testimony, and denied access to legal counsel, one immigration judge is quoted as saying, “For some people, these [sentences] are equivalent to death penalty cases, and we are conducting these cases in a traffic court setting.”

Feds Return for Immigration Raid
This article discusses the arrest of Julia Morales, a local pentecostal pastor in New Haven-New York, who has lived in the U.S. for a quarter of a century. A leader in the community and a person without so much as a traffic ticket on her record, the community is fuming over her arrest.

Jailed Immigrants Buoy Budgets

This article discusses what among immigration advocates is known as the “migrant military complex;” that is to say, the industry developed around the detention of migrants. As this article discusses, both public and private facilities “aggressively try to market” themselves in order to get immigrant detainees in their facilities due to the price ICE pays per day per detainee. Meanwhile, there is increasing concern about the standards of immigrant detention.

AP: Immigrant Raids Often Mark Start of Years in Limbo

This Associated Press article discusses the years of hardship that is often sparked due to immigration raids. Backlogs in the courts, as well as no legal “speedy trial” requirements as exist in criminal courts, mean that immigrants often wait years to learn the status of their immigration cases. During this time, many are held in detention, but others who continue to live in their community are not lawfully able to work. This has placed a huge burden on communities, especially churches which provide services to immigrants and their families.

Use of Federal Database for ID Checks Hits Some Bumps

This USA Today article discusses a few of the many problems caused by E-Verify, including database discrepancies, employer discrimination, lack of transparency, and its inability to address identity fraud.

As my colleague wrote: Underwear and Sunlight, what they have in common besides a human’s need for them

In Uncategorized on February 4, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Today, like most days, when I came into work I spent the first 45 minutes of my day siphoning through news articles, op-eds, and editorials that have been emailed to me since I left work at 5:30 the day before. These help keep me up-to-date on all that is happening in the immigration realm across the country, and in turn, enable me to better inform you (once or twice a week I post a blog with what I consider the top 5-6 most recent articles that talk about how immigration affects our community. To check last week’s out, click here or here).

Today, a couple articles in particular stuck out to me. One was titled: “The Big Business of Family Detention: It’s not just alleged terrorists who are suffering from our inhumane treatment of detainees. It’s also children.” The second was called: “ICE Raids–Detention Centers Not About Immigration, All About Money!

These titles disturbed me, even though the issues the articles discuss are well-known subjects to me.

They made me think about my own trip to a local detention center about two weeks ago. Some colleagues of mine had set up the trip so that those of us who work on immigration issues here in Washington could actually see firsthand some of the situations that immigrants deal with.

Overall, the facility was quite well kept and run in an orderly fashion. The guards and superintendent of the facility were unbelievably gracious to our group, spending over 4 hours with us and answering any question that we may have. The facility didn’t appear to be the harrowing place that we hear about in so many news articles where people are abused or dying because of substandard treatment.

However, I think my colleague Katrine from NETWORK (a Catholic social justice lobby) put it best when she wrote:

“Underwear and sunlight, sunlight and underwear. The two never seemed to go together as underwear would theoretically never see sunlight nor sunlight see underwear. I thought that the only commonality was the person, wearing the underwear, basking in the sunlight. I did not realize that at Hampton Roads they would have another thing in common: their classification as non-essentials. So non-essential that the sun is to be felt only through the small crack of one window in a gym, and bras worn only if one has five or ten dollars to pay for a pair from the jail commissary. In the end, a very intriguing and educational tour came down to the simplest of things: underwear and sunlight, sunlight and underwear.”

It’s the so-called small things that immigrants are deprived of that perhaps is most shocking: underwear, sunlight. No contact visits are allowed. Spouses cannot see each other if they are in the same facility. Parents cannot hug their children. Children are born while their mothers are shackled to the bed.

And you can be in there for years.

And in some facilities, children are held wearing criminal jumpsuits. Children raised behind bars without sunlight and underwear, underwear and sunlight.

All because of civil infractions that are about equal to a traffic ticket in legal terms.

When I think about these realities in relation to the economic gain made by companies who run the immigrant detention centers like those discussed in the two articles I received today, I can’t help but envision it as a caricature in which there is a huge corrupt traffic cop with his foot on the roof of a car that he’s pulled over, holding the people inside indefinitely and charging them $200 a day for their “criminal activity.”

Except in this case, it’s a private company and not a cop. And children and families seeking better lives after economic deprivation, war-torn countries, and exploitation rather than someone who drove to fast.