Monday, July 23

on thin ice

A couple weeks ago, the Chronicle published a cover feature penned by myself and staff reporter Michael Beckel that glimpsed life inside the immigrant detention center in Aurora. If you haven't had a chance to read the translated Sam Jones diaries, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

For over a year, but especially since the Swift meatpacking raids, I've heard rumors of U.S.-born Latinos getting swept up in deportation nets via "voluntary deportation." Even "Jones" alluded to it in his interview with us. (Jones, of course, is not our source's real name, but his talking to us relied upon anonymity, so we agreed. No protection from law enforcement is involved. Jones is going to be deported, and he is well aware of that. He simply awaits orders from the judge on whether he will be sent to Italy or Mexico, and when.)

In another powerful narrative for the LA Weekly, Daniel Hernandez follows a mother's journey for her 30-year-old U.S-born son, who was "voluntarily" deported to Tijuana. Like Jones, the California man was picked up by county sheriffs. But unlike Jones, the man was also deported by sheriffs, a scary and dangerous proposition that could be at our doorstep here in Colorado as well.

Here's an excerpt, more reasoning for keeping immigration enforcement in the jurisdiction of the federal government, even if it means more funding:

In late 2005, the Sheriff’s Department entered into an agreement with ICE, now an agency in the Department of Homeland Security, that permits Sheriff’s officials to perform immigration screenings inside the jails. Getting released for probation comes with an added step for some. Inmates must now sit down with a Sheriff’s “custody assistant” for an interview to determine whether one is eligible to be released to ICE for deportation. The program, referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding, has been highly touted by law enforcement authorities as a way to both relieve overcrowding in the jails and to actively enforce immigration laws.

The process appears fraught with potential loopholes. For starters, there are few safeguards to verify what an inmate says in an immigration interview is true. Inmates’ names are run through an ICE database and a criminal record database, but it is unclear how or if the information is cross-referenced, says Mary Tiedeman, director of the ACLU’s Jails Project. Tiedeman has broad access to the county jails as part of a consent decree imposed on the Sheriff’s Department, but she says she is not aware of how inmates are chosen to undergo an immigration screening before being released. Mark Rosenbaum, the ACLU’s legal director, says the likely standard amounts to racial profiling.

“It’s a system that’s built on the stereotypes that most Latinos are presumptively illegally in the country,” Rosenbaum says. “That just mocks the notion of process. It’s just a deportation manufacturing machine.”

No comments: