"Guilty by Immigration Status" assails troubling rise in racial profiling, immigrant detentions that undermine promise of reform
Oakland, CA , October 6, 2009: A new report reveals that immigration policing is causing a disturbing pattern of abuses and human rights violations that threaten the livelihood and safety of entire families, workers and communities. Guilty by Immigration Status: A report on U.S. violations of the rights of immigrant families, workers and communities in 2008 calls for restoring due process and suspending detentions and deportations, and urges a thorough investigation into immigration enforcement practices.
The report was produced by HURRICANE, the Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network, an initiative of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR).
Guilty by Immigration Status details how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built up over the last eight years an "immigration control regime," whose goal is to deport everyone who can be deported. According to the report, DHS is almost exclusively promoting the criminalization of immigration status to detain and deport persons, often for minor offenses.
Catherine Tactaquin, NNIRR director, spoke to the urgent need to address the numerous problems revealed in the report: "Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Luis Gutierrez have each said they will soon announce their proposals for key immigration reforms. But unless the components of this regime are halted and dismantled, the long-held promise of immigration reform -- the lifting of millions of immigrant workers and their families out of a life of fear and exploitation -- will be severely undermined."
Record Number Jailed Solely for Immigration Status
Guilty by Immigration Status describes how DHS, along with other police, public officials and agencies, routinely trumped the civil rights and constitutional protections of a person in order to question, detain and/or jail them solely based on their actual or perceived immigration status. The report also shows that such DHS detentions are taking place in record numbers, along with the relentless militarizing and policing of the immigrant and border communities.
Laura Rivas, coordinator of the HURRICANE initiative, said, "ICE police is unaccountable for the brutal treatment they exact on people for alleged immigration offenses. We have the case of Mr. Rebhy Abdel-Malak, an Egyptian; ICE agents beat him in an Atlanta cell and forced him to sign away his rights in order to deport him. ICE agents forced a pen into his hands and made him sign a document as they sat on him!
"In Sacramento, California, ICE stormed into the home of the Sarabia family, arresting a mother and, without a warrant, her son. ICE deported them literally overnight and dumped them in the streets of Tijuana like so much refuse, without letting the family know of there whereabouts." She added, "Hundreds of persons are dying on the border, where the border control strategy deliberately funnels migrants into the desert and puts border communities under siege. It's a deadly crossing for migrants because of the extreme weather and being hunted by vigilantes."
Guilty by Immigration Status is the second annual report of HURRICANE. The findings are drawn from 141 stories of human rights abuse reported and documented by HURRICANE members and partners, including 25 interviews offering first-hand testimony from immigrant workers, families and community members directly affected by immigration enforcement policies and practices in 2008. The HURRICANE report also tracked 118 incidents of ICE immigration enforcement operations or high profile raids through extensive documentation from newspaper articles, scholarly journals, advocate reports, and interviews with affected persons, along with reporting by community groups and other institutions. [See links below to read the report and the chronologies of human rights abuses and ICE raids.]
According to Ms. Rivas, "The Sarabia and Abdel-Malak families are not isolated cases. We believe the Department of Homeland Security must be held accountable and the abuses investigated. DHS is putting the rights and lives of immigrant and refugee members of our communities at risk.
"The first step to ending this crisis is restoring due process rights and other constitutional protections. President Obama must suspend all detentions and deportations so that those who have violated rights and committed abuses are held accountable. Fair and humane immigration reforms can be achieved, but only by revitalizing our country's commitment to justice and equality for all persons, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status."
Read Guilty by Immigration Status at www.nnirr.org/hurricane/GuiltybyImmigrationStatus2008.pdf
Read the 2008 100 Stories Chronology of Abuses at www.nnirr.org/hurricane/100StoriesChronology.pdf
Read the 2008 chronology of ICE enforcement operations, or raids, at www.nnirr.org/hurricane/RaidsChronology.pdf