Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

January 24, 2008

"Quit Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?" *

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deporting American-born citizens:

Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he's never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack's claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona...

"It becomes your word against the government's, even when you know and insist that you're a U.S. citizen," Siulc said. "Your word doesn't always count, and the government doesn't always investigate fully"...

While immigration advocates agree that the agents generally release detainees before deportation in clear-cut cases, they said that ICE sometimes ignores valid assertions of citizenship in the rush to ship out more illegal immigrants.
In 2006 alone, a human rights watch group identified at least 126 Americans caught in the nightmarish arrest, deport and ask questions later tactic, including a mentally disabled man deported to Mexico and found wandering its streets three months later. That's a small fraction of the estimated 280,000 held in immigration detention centers in any given year, but it's still 126 too many.

An ICE spokesperson states "the burden of proof is on the individual to show they're legally entitled to be in the United States". Easier said than done since immigration detainees, unlike those charged in criminal court, aren't entitled to legal representation. Coupled with the arrogant and infallible attitude some agents take who insist "they never make mistakes", the situation quickly becomes a nightmare for those unrightfully detained.

Congress should investigate and oversee what's going on with ICE, whose overzealous carelessness is fed by the anti-immigration paranoia sweeping the country of late. The conditions under which undocumented immigrants are detained are outrageous enough. When the fundamental rights of American citizens are being trampled on top of that in the name of enforcing immigration laws, something has gone seriously wrong.

* "Who watches the watchmen?" -- Satires of Juvenal

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posted at 10:18 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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