Deportation


In the Guardian, there is a profile of a report by the Institute of Race Relations concerning the condition of asylum seekers in Britian.  Drive to Desperate Measures documents violence, much of it self-inflicted, that occurs in detention centers.  As Melania McFadyean notes, the rise in suicides among asylum seekers reflects their growing desperation as new legislation makes finding sanctuary in Britain more elusive.  She points out, however, that these conditions are being exacerbated by the profit motives of the private corporations that run these facilities.

Although some would consider asylum seekers a class apart from illegal immigrants–they are victims of persecution, and their plight is judged as a matter of diplomacy and politics rather than naturalization–their treatment can be similarly desperate.  It is questionable that the economic motives faced by one group have no political basis, and vice-versa.   The threat of deporation can be seen as a matter of life and death. Refugees enjoy more legitimacy that illegal immigrants, but their lives are perhaps more circumscribed as they await judgment of their fate.

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A rather disheartening tale in the NY Times:

On the evening of Nov. 2, a young corporate lawyer in New Jersey received a frantic call from a charity client, a 46-year-old Harlem grocery clerk with a history of petty crime. He was in custody on an airplane in Newark on his way to Mogadishu, the capital of his native Somalia, a country so dangerous that to the lawyer’s knowledge, no one had been deported there in years.

The courts were closed, and a federal judge who heard an emergency motion the next day ruled that the clerk, Mohamad Rasheed Jama, was already outside United States jurisdiction.

So, after a stop in Nairobi, where he was handed over to Kenyans, Mr. Jama stepped off an airplane in Mogadishu — and into the hands of Islamist militants, who soon accused him of being an American spy and began demanding money.

“They were extremely angry,” said his lawyer, Emily B. Goldberg, relating the last frightened call she got from Mr. Jama, who had spent four years in immigration detention in New Jersey awaiting deportation to the land he left at 18. “He asked me if there was anything I could do. I told him in the American system, there was nothing more I could do.” …

If Jama, a refugee from a society broken by anarchy, cannot get a fair hearing, why should other immigrants? The administrations policy may point to increasing the number of immigrants in this country, but deportations also reveal that they are willing to jettison anyone on a moment’s notice, without recourse to the judicial system, without regard to what they might face at home. Indeed, the rights of immigrants, illegal and otherwise, are constantly undermined and obscurred. Their dependence on the government’s charity has become the sword of Damocles. However, the article suggests that attempting to exercise rights will only hasten deportation:

In the United States, lawyers for Somalis are asking whether Mr. Jama’s deportation signals the start of a mass deportation or a warning to those facing indefinite detention that “if you use habeas, you’ll be on the next flight,” said Jeffrey Keyes, the Minneapolis lawyer who argued the Supreme Court case.