More Civilized Behavior

by digby

Following up on my earlier post about "civilized society" here's one to make you really wonder how some people can look themselves in the mirror without throwing up. From Dave Neiwert at FDL:

We've already seen, here in the States, the travesties created by the Republican push to deport illegal immigrants: police-state tactics, the bastardization of justice, the destruction of families, the inhuman treatment of cancer victims. But that's just the beginning of the ugliness.

Then there's what happens afterwards -- particularly to the children. A La Jornada report (translated; see original here) gives the basic outline:

During the first seven months of the year, at least 90,000 Mexican children were deported by the U.S. government, in the context of its anti-immigration policy, reported a study of the working group for migration issues of the PRI in the Chamber of Deputies. It also has deported around 300,000 adults.

He reported that about 15 percent of children, some 13,500, are living along the Mexican border, without any government protection. Those best off are attended by religious institutions or NGOs.

The group's coordinator and secretary of the Commission on Population, Borders and Migration Affairs, the PRI deputy Edmundo Ramirez Martinez, pointed out that children are entrusted to polleros, or traffickers, to be brought to the United States with their parents and if the would-be migrants are deported, the children are virtually stranded on the Mexican border.

Neiwert goes on to describe what happens to these kids. Think the worst and you would be right.

It's just as awful in its own way when they "keep the families together" --- in prison camps:

The whole thing is an extrajudicial, privatized boondoggle (what else is new?) in which a bunch of people are basically jailed with little or no due process (what else is new?)

But can someone please tell me how this can be necessary?

Jeans and t-shirts have been replaced with jail uniforms; children are issued uniforms as soon as they can fit into them ? and everyone must wear name tags, even the babies.

Name tags, sure. Jail uniforms? Purely dehumanizing.

Keep in mind that these are all people from countries other than Mexico. It's a result of the ending of the "catch and release" program that allowed these migrants, many of whom were seeking asylum, to be released on humanitarian grounds. The kids used to be sent to a residential facility where they went to school. Here they gt one hour of instruction (English) a day and are allowed on hour of indoor recreation.

Nobody knows how long these children will be kept behind bars. From an editorial in the Austin Statesman:

[I]llegal immigrants who commit crimes get speedier legal attention than these children, who have done nothing wrong other than follow their parents.

Nothing will change until reforms are initiated, and Congress has done little to fix a broken immigration policy and the machinery to enforce it. The result is the private prison facility in Taylor and a smaller one in Pennsylvania.

According to those familiar with the families in the private prison, children of those apprehended are dressed in prison jumpsuits and receive only one hour of schooling and one hour of recreation a day. The trade-off is that they get to remain with their families.

Hard information on the program and the private prison is difficult to come by. The company running the prison refers questions to the immigration office, and the immigration office has had little to say about the situation.

News of the 400 people — 200 of them children — being held in the T. Don Hutto unit in Taylor has sparked protests from several groups interested in immigrant issues. They are concerned about everything from care and feeding of those being held to the psychological effect of incarceration on children and families.

Federal authorities began detaining all unauthorized immigrants last summer. The reason for the detention was that so many who were charged with unauthorized entry into the United States never appeared for their court dates. They melted back into the population.

It is understandable in this age of terrorism that authorities want to keep tabs on illegal immigrants and ensure their appearances in courts. But there should be a way to see that they have their day in court without imprisoning their children.

Keeping families intact would appear to be a humane policy, as well. But the result of the new detention policy has been to jail children, and that is not acceptable. Those who have visited the detainees, some of whom are seeking political asylum, say the detention is damaging.

Little kids in prison jumpsuits and nametags presents a sad picture.

They say the sign of a civilized society is how it treats the most vulnerable among them --- at least that's what the conservatives always say when their defending fetuses. Actual living children are not so important.