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U.N. investigator Jorge Bustamante was unimpressed by America's overuse of substandard detention facilties with an inadequate appeals process and called for other alternative on what he calls "non-citizen migrants" in detention.
No PERSON shall be denied the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness without due process of law — Without doubt, our most basic and fundamental rights belong to all persons and not just American citizens. It is NOT alright to hold people, especially children, in detention for years without trial, to ignore pleas from their families and communities, to overlook their basic medical needs. Why are we wasting so much money and resources on rounding up people? Is this an extension of the military-prison-industrial complex? I tend to think so. We should be building more schools, and yet, we are building more detention centers and prisons. What purpose does it serve other than to pour money into the coffers of private businesses? (See this blog post on how detention centers make more profit than prisons). I hope to do more research on this soon.
Bustamante had made similar claims in a similar report last year (see here). He noted the increased racism and xenophobia in the United State post-9-11, especially against people of Middle-Eastern and South-East Asian descent. With the economy in a state of recession, immigrants, especially migrant workers, are not being seen in a favorable light.
The United States has countered his reports with assertions that this country has the most fair and liberal immigration laws. While that may be true till further investigation, it does nothing to counter claims of migrant rights abuses. We can do much better in our treatment of immigrants, of people who look "different" from the norm, of young children who were simply brought here by their parents. We can start with passing the DREAM Act so that we can stop punishing innocent children and young adults for the crimes committed by their parents. Under what law is it just and fair for undocumented students to "do the time" for crimes and misdemeanors they did not commit?
Apparently, the United States arrogantly sees it fit to ignore its human rights abuses, while pointing fingers at human rights conditions in other countries. We must lead by example if we want to preserve respect for human rights and for ourselves.
The UN report can be accessed here.