ICE. Keeps Secrecy Lid on Detention of Thousands of Immigrants

Friday, December 14, 2012

For immigrants in the United States, getting sucked into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) system of detention means being cut off from the outside world and not knowing when they will be released.

 

Or if they will make it out alive.

 

Some detained immigrants who have no criminal records can spend weeks, if not months or years, in jails with no access to due process and sometimes little opportunity to communicate with relatives or others trying to help them.

 

Those being detained by ICE are officially unknown, because the agency’s policy is to not release the names of detainees. Immigration officials claim this is done to protect immigrants’ privacy.

 

The system is dangerously flawed, however. Case in point: Irene Bamenga.

 

Bamenga, a French immigrant, attempted to return to France after overstaying her visa. She was arrested at the Canadian border and thrown into one ICE detention center after another. What made Bamenga’s situation even more disturbing was her heart condition, which required medication.

 

She never received a court hearing or a chance to plead for medical treatment. As her detention stretched into nearly two weeks, her health began to fail, until she was found dead in her cell.

 

While many thousands of like Bamenga vanish into the black hole of ICE detention centers, 8,500 criminals—including 201 murderers—were released by ICE into U.S. cities during the past four years because their native countries refused to accept them back.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Out of Sight, Detainees Struggle to be Heard (by Milton J. Valencia and Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe)

Unwanted at Home, Free to Strike Again (by Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe)

I.C.E. Letter Explaining Its Refusal to Release Detainee Names (pdf)

Increasing Cases of U.S. Citizens Detained as Illegal Immigrants (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff)

Does the U.S. Have Secret Immigrant Detention Centers? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Immigrant Granted Hearing after Five and Half Years Detention (by Jacquelyn Lickness, AllGov)

Comments

david 10 months ago
Dear Reader Yes I am so sick and tyred of people abusing our Universal Declaration of Human Rights Can anyone please give me advice on overstaying Universal Declaration Rights on someone that is to scared to go back to his mother land wich is to dangerous
Auth 1 year ago
I'm worrying every day, to be hnoset, said Benatta. ask any Algerian he will tell you what will happen to me if I am deported. He said, that if he is returned to Algeria, he could face torture, lifelong imprisonment or even execution. ACLU No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Article 9, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.S. helped create and which the U.S. is a signatory to! It is now apparent that the overwhelming majority of the men who were detained had simply overstayed their visas or committed similar civil immigration infractions that, ordinarily, would not have led to detention at all. ACLUActions against Benamar Benatta and others violates human rights principles found in two important international instruments:• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which the U.S. helped create after World War II)• The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (whose provisions are similar to our Bill of Rights) The United States is a signatory to both these documents. ACLUBy asking the United Nations to shine a global spotlight on the U.S. government's indiscriminate roundup of immigrants, the ACLU warns the government that it cannot escape justice through secrecy. The United States government has done everything in its power to hide its actions from public view. The government refused to disclose the names of the men it secretly held, and then deported them before they could tell their stories. The government clearly hoped that these immigrants had disappeared forever. But just as the United States is crossing borders abroad in the name of security, we will cross borders in the name of justice to vindicate human rights abuses. ACLUBenatta's fears about returning to Algeria center on the country's violent Islamic fundamentalist movement as well as its military. I had a problem with the terrorists who wanted to kill me and the military, which was beating and torturing people, he told The Washington Post. ACLUAhilan Arulanantham, a former staff attorney at the ACLU's Immigrants Rights Project, recalls what he saw and heard at the Brooklyn detention center: I remember being very struck that the men's wrists were shackled, their legs were shackled at the ankle, their arms were shackled to their waist. There was a guard on each arm and another guard behind and a guard in front. The detainees described physical abuse, that they were thrown up against the wall, that lights were on constantly, that it was freezing. They tried to put blankets on themselves, but guards would get angry about that when they had counts.' ACLU the ACLU and other groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding government documents in response to reports that it is intentionally sending detainees to countries known to engage in torture and other illegal interrogation techniques. If successful, this action will help us determine whether the U.S. has violated the Convention Against Torture, one of the few human rights treaties that the U.S. has actually signed and ratified. ACLUI believe that the U.S. has indeed violated any or all of the conventions against torture that are presently in place.It's very sad.Ruschia

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