26 March 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Don't seek asylum in the United States unless…

you want to be jailed in the immigrant concentration camps known euphemistically as 'detention centers' and separated from your family with gross human rights violations, lack of legal counsel, phones, inadequate medical treatment…

Am I being hyperbolic? See the latest video of a woman seeking asylum who had her baby taken from her. Or better yet, the letter from the nine year old in a detention camp.

This follows the series of blog posts I have made about the increasing militarization of immigration policy (See Immigration Control – A Lucrative Business and What does the United States Gain from Putting Teenagers in Detention?).

Under current United States immigration laws, the asylum seeker is a threat by proxy. A de jure example is the 2003 Matter of D-J-, in which the U.S. attorney general declared that national security requires all asylum seekers arriving via boat to mandatory detention through to removal proceedings. This is actually in contrast to Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention that the United States has signed:

 

1. The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

2. The Contracting States shall not apply to the movements of such refugees restrictions other than those which are necessary and such restrictions shall only be applied until their status in the country is regularized or they obtain admission into another country. The Contracting States shall allow such refugees a reasonable period and all the necessary facilities to obtain admission into another country.

Uh-oh, maybe we forgot to unsign it before violating it with our gross treatment of asylum seekers. 

Who are these asylum seekers and why are we treating them like criminals? Asylum seekers are generally refugees seeking protection after facing persecution and human rights violations in their own countries. Contrary to popular opinion, winning an asylum case is not easy with less than 30% of approved cases and neither is it the quick way to gain citizenship, which can take as long as 16 years or more. The story of Sarjina Emy cited earlier speaks of a DREAMer who was brought here at the age of 4 and after thirteen years of waiting, her family was denied asylum and deported to Bangladesh. She and her younger brothers were detained and awaiting removal proceedings. There is absolutely no compelling national security need to bar Americans like Sarjina Emy (Yes, I said American because Emy is as American as anyone born in this country) when they have not commited any crime.

The United States is not the beacon for human rights that our parents and future migrants envision. Far from it. It is even more deplorable when a country like China with a horrendous human rights record feels compelled to publish a report on the human rights abuses in the United States, making note of the large numbers of people incarcerated. Next in line is probably North Korea and Sudan. Go elsewhere.

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