Surface    |    Backfill    |    About    |    Contact


Voices from Detention

I write a lot about the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention system. But I've never been detained myself (nor have I even gone in past the parking lot of a detention center). Everything you're reading here is filtered second-hand via my wife and her co-workers. More than perhaps any other oppressed group, detainees have trouble getting their voices heard, since in a prison where even newspapers are contraband, they're hardly going to be starting up blogs. So it's good to get the chance to read a detainee's own words, from a letter to his lawyer (the lawyer, Raha Jorjani, is a friend of mine and former coworker of my wife). The post doesn't say exactly what the legal grounds of his deportation and unsuccessful defense were, but I can safely say there's no plausible circumstances I can think of in which deporting a 26-year-old who has lived in the U.S. since the age of 9 months could qualify as just.

In other detention-related news, an Arizona bill to increase transparency at private prisons, many of which hold immigration detainees, has died, in large part (it seems) because towns like Florence and Eloy have become economically dependent on them.

Kate Beaton teaches us about sexism


Illegal, Unauthorized, or Undocumented?

Ampersand has decided to ban the term "illegals" from his blog, and to frown upon the term "illegal immigrant." He notes that his preferred alternative is "unauthorized migrant," but in the spirit of calling people what they want to be called, he will defer to the emerging consensus around "undocumented immigrant."

While I agree with the call-people-what-they-want-to-be-called principle, I think there's a good substantive case that progressives should favor "undocumented" over "unauthorized." "Unauthorized" takes the harshly judgmental sting out of "illegal." But it still puts the focus on the idea that they're doing something wrong. "Undocumented," however, puts the focus on the condition that makes them vulnerable to various forms of hardship and exploitation. I think progressives who want to be allies of the people in question should want to foreground the latter.

In other immigration-related news, yesterday my wife pointed out an inaccuracy in my post about a study showing that undocumented immigrants had the same crime rate as citizens. The study compared the percent of Maricopa County's population that's estimated to be undocumented to the percent of people booked by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office who are subject to ICE holds. But it's not just undocumented people who are subject to ICE holds -- people with visas or green cards or other forms of status may also be turned over to ICE if their crime makes them potentially deportable. So undocumented people appear to be arrested disproportionately *less* often than citizens.


More On White People's Ethnicities

Lynn Gazis-Sax has a nice post up about being "white ethnic" that is complementary to my post on the subject.


The Trouble With T-Visas

Holly at feministe did an interesting interview with Sienna Baskin from New York's Sex Workers Project. She says:

... victims of trafficking are still seen as prostitutes by the law. So they are arrested multiple times, treated like shit while in custody, threatened with deportation (prostitution is a deportable offense) and sent right back out—with another conviction on their record—into the custody of their trafficker. So that doesn’t work too well for them.

Then they—our clients—escape somehow. And they find us, and we start helping them get immigration status and counseling and other services. However, the only status they are usually eligible for is a T-visa, which requires that they cooperate with the police against their trafficker, which is a huge burden. They’re terrified of the police and of their trafficker, all for very good reasons. So many of them don't end up in the T-visa program either.

The other hitch with T-visas -- and S-visas, which are for people in similar situations with respect to some other crimes -- is that in order for the visa applicant to cooperate with the police investigation, there has to be a police investigation to cooperate with. If the police decide not to pursue your abuser, or decide that they don't need or want your help in their work, you're out of luck. The law seems primarily set up to help the police avoid losing useful witnesses, not to help victims.



OK. I think I'm done reformatting the main page for now, pending information from Blogger help about how to reformat the labels line (which was the original point of trying to alter my layout ...). If anyone sees anything funny, let me know.

I switched over to Blogger's comments and trackback, so hopefully Haloscan won't slow the loading of the page anymore. The downside is that all previous comments have been lost. If I'm feeling ambitious, I might to try to rescue them out of my Haloscan account and re-post them to blogger.


Fear of Change

This site will look a little funny for a while, as I'm trying to revamp my template.