National Attention

Holy cow!  Tim Chavez got the New York Times to cover Juana Villegas DeLaPaz’s story.  Wow.

I just want to add a couple of things to what Chavez has said here and here.

First and most important thing to remember is that our “efforts” to remove illegal immigrants from the United States are a joke (a cruel joke with real people getting crushed by the weight of the punchline, but a joke).  People like DeLaPaz, who want to come here from Mexico, literally cannot enter the United States legally.  There is no legal mechanism by which she can get here and stay here.

Because our immigration system is screwed up and needs drastic reformation.  It is cruel for us to both make it impossible for “unskilled” Mexicans to migrate to the United States AND to continue to entice them to come here.  And it creates a labor pool ripe for exploitation because they had to sneek in here and cannot get the help they need when they need it for fear of being sent away from here.

But also, even if you believe that illegal immigrants are criminals who should be deported, even you should see that ICE’s efforts to remove illegal immigrants from the U.S. are a giant boondoggle smoke-screen designed to funnel money into a “problem” they have no real impetus to fix (because, after all, if they fixed the “problem,” they wouldn’t still get billions of dollars to “protect” us from illegal immigrants.

Consider this.

There is an estimated 12-30 million people in the country illegally (obviously with the pro-immigration people citing lower numbers and the anti-immigration people citing higher numbers).  Let’s just say that there are only twelve million people here illegally, just for the sake of argument, just for a second.

According to ICE itself, they have “more than 16,500 employees and an annual budget of nearly $5 billion,” and yet, last year, again, according to ICE itself “ICE removed a record 276,912 illegal aliens, including voluntary removals, from the United States.”

America, they have 16,500 people, a budget of nearly $5 billion dollars, and their record for removing people from this country who shouldn’t be here is 276,912?

What’s 12,000,000 minus 276,912?

Um, almost twelve million.

At this rate, assuming that they can or want to actually keep people from entering the country illegally, most people here illegally will die in this country before ICE ever gets around to rounding them up.

Five billion dollars is a lot of impetus to continue the status quo.

Second, being in this country illegally is not a crime punishable by prison time.  The punishment for being here illegally is to be sent back to your country of origin and, usually, denied reentry into the United States.  People don’t go to prison for being here illegally.

People also don’t go to prison for driving without a license.

And yet, look at this passage from the New York Times.

As a result, immigration agents issued an order to take charge of Mrs. Villegas once she was released by the local authorities. Based on that order, county officers designated her a medium-security inmate in the jail, Ms. Weikal said.

A medium-security inmate. 

A woman about to give birth facing two charges that wouldn’t even get her thrown in prison is, by virtue of coming to ICE’s attention considered a medium-security inmate?

How is that not a fourth-amendment issue?  She’s sorted into the inmate population not based on the severity of her crime (like everyone else) but on her legal status?

Is this happening to all folks held on immigration charges?  And, if so, isn’t that a safety concern?  We sort prisoners for a reason.  A dude, like the folks in my family, who gets tossed in jail for not paying his child support isn’t housed with the dudes who murder folks, for his own safety.

Why is a woman facing a misdemenor charge and who is being held on an immigration violation being held in medium security?

And, my fellow Davidson County-ians, pay attetion to this little gem in the Times article as well, in case you’re ever arrested:

She said that it was standard procedure to bar medical equipment like a breast pump from the jail.

Really?  You can’t have necessary medical equipment in jail?

Again, how is that not a fourth amendment issue?

See, because here’s the thing, to get to the point I want to make–these are our rights that are being threatened.  We have a right to expect that, when we are in the custody of the authorities, that we will get prompt and thorough medical care.  We have a right to expect that we will not be placed unduly in harm’s way when we are in custody.  And we have a right to expect that our tax dollars go towards what we were told they would go towards–helping to remove dangerous criminals from our midst.

ICE in general and the 287(g) program in particular has been more about acclimating us to the exact opposite of that stuff and we all suffer for that.

3 thoughts on “National Attention

  1. Really? You can’t have necessary medical equipment in jail? Again, how is that not a fourth amendment issue?

    since when does the fourth amendment apply inside jails? the bigger problem seems to me to be the medical safety of the inmates, if deprived of necessary equipment. an eighth amendment issue, i think, more likely than fourth.

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