ICE Deports Non-Spanish Speaking American Citizen to Mexico

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Guest blogger: Sam Ritchie from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

How does a U.S. citizen who has never been to Mexico, speaks no Spanish and shares no Mexican heritage end up being deported there, spending the next four months living on the streets and in the shelters and prisons of Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala? It's just the latest instance of blatant disregard for the rights and well being of people with mental disabilities by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mark Lyttle's brush with immigration officials began when he was about to be released from a North Carolina jail where he was serving a short sentence for touching a worker's backside in a halfway house that serves individuals with mental disabilities. Even though they had plenty of evidence that he was a U.S. citizen — including his Social Security number and the names of his parents — corrections officials turned him over to ICE as an undocumented immigrant whose country of birth was Mexico. (Mark is actually of Puerto Rican descent, but I guess when the government is trying to kick a Latino guy out of the country, the easiest place to send him is Mexico.)

ICE held Mark for six weeks, and though they knew about his history of mental illness and noted that he didn't understand the investigation into his immigration status, they provided no legal assistance in either his interrogation or court appearance and eventually deported him to Mexico. Penniless and unable to speak the language, he was sent by Mexican officials to Honduras, where he was imprisoned and threatened by prison guards. Honduran officials sent him to Guatemala, where he eventually made his way to the U.S. Embassy.

Within a day, embassy officials were able to contact one of Mark's brothers on the military base where he was serving and issue Mark a passport. His brother wired him money and Mark was soon on a flight to Atlanta. But adding insult to injury, upon seeing his history of ICE investigations, immigration officials in Atlanta held and questioned him for several hours before letting him go.

On October 13th, the ACLU and our affiliates in Georgia and North Carolina have filed lawsuits on Mark's behalf, but the question on my mind is "how could this have happened?" The answer, as reported by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch in a report issued this July, is that both ICE and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have failed to implement meaningful safeguards for people with mental disabilities facing possible deportation from the United States. The system fails to even live up to basic standards of the American justice system, such as the right to appointed counsel for people who must defend against deportation even when their mental disabilities make it practically impossible to understand what "deportation" means. As immigration attorney Megan Bremer has noted:

Due process is part of judicial integrity. It's a basic principle that this country has decided to prioritize. It's one of our greatest exports — we send people all over the world to talk about rule of law and how to reform judicial systems but we're not doing it here in our fastest growing judicial system [the immigration courts].

The result is that people like Mark who have a right to remain in the United States can be deported because they never get a fair chance to present their cases.

Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project of the ACLU of Georgia, told the Inter Press Service News Agency-

Mark's case is a tragedy that serves to underscore the deep systemic injustices that continue to plague our government's system of detention and deportation...Mark is just one of thousands of people in this country who have been victimised by a single-minded focus on detention and deportation without the kind of individualised determinations that are the essence of due proces.

Mark's story is a wake-up call. We hope that ICE and DOJ will implement reforms designed to protect the rights of people with mental disabilities now, before they accidentally put another citizen through the ordeal they caused for Mark Lyttle.

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Jury Rules Immigrant’s Murder a Hate Crime, Even as Vicious Ads Continue to Stoke Racial Tensions

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Guest Blogger: Jackie Mahendra from America's Voice.

While the mainstream media has been largely absent, Latina Lista has been busy covering the dramatic trial of the two men charged with the hate crime killing of immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa. It turns out the 2008 murder was, indeed, a hate crime. 

A federal grand jury has convicted the two Pennsylvania men, in a verdict that many argue was long overdue.

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of teenagers who yelled racial epithets throughout the killing.  A retired Philadelphia police officer said she heard one of the defendants yell to Mr. Ramirez’s friends, “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next to him.”  Defendants were reported to have yelled, “Go back to Mexico” as they beat him to death.

Despite the evidence, an all-white jury found two of the defendants “not guilty” of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation last year, to cheers in the courtroom and the astonishment of the Latino community.  The Federal government took up the case and finally justice was served.

Yet, two years after Ramirez' gruesome murder, we continue to see egregious examples of race-baiting and immigrant bashing for political gain. This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads that demonize immigrants. They use extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric instead of offering real solutions to our immigration crisis.  Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA) and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of "real" Americans.  

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose 32% between 2003 and 2008 (the last year for which data is available), and groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented a correlation between anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Latino violence.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

Hateful campaign ads and rhetoric that demonize immigrants have no place in America today.  It’s as if some politicians think there is no cost for immigrant-bashing.  Well they are wrong.  This type of rhetoric creates a climate where violent crimes are committed against human beings simply because of the color of their skin.  Yesterday’s verdict in the Luis Ramirez murder is just, but it’s not nearly enough.  Politicians and pundits must stop using immigrants as scapegoats and instead use their microphones to spread a message of tolerance, humanity, and the need for common sense immigration reform.

In light of this tragic case, we believe it’s time for politicians and pundits to end the hateful rhetoric and immigrant bashing that has created a hostile climate for Latinos and encouraged hate crimes like the murder of Mr. Ramirez. Luis Ramirez lost his life because of the unaccountable, incendiary, and out-of-control immigration debate in this country.

Politicians who stoke racial fears and hatred need to realize that their rhetoric has severe -- but not unforeseen-- consequences.

The ruling on Luis Ramirez' murder should serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to end the politics of division and fear.

Photo courtesy of americasvoiceonline.org

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Feds may have held off Arizona law, but border law gets the green light

From Restore Fairness blog. Although a federal judge struck down on some of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070’s major provisions in a critical victory, the untrue notion that Washington has lost control of the border remains. Within this atmosphere of hate and misinformation, President Obama signed a $600 million bill that increases appropriations for border security in a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, leading to profound disappointment at Congress’s decision to propose, promote, and pass border enforcement bill HR 6080. 

There's more...

Imagine if We Never Ended the War on Alcohol

Remember we did have a War on Alcohol. It was called Prohibition. In fact, we took that far more seriously than our War on Drugs. We even passed a constituional amendment about it. Of course, the gigantic difference is that we realized that was a mistake and reversed course.

These days it doesn't seem politically possible to ever change course. If you start a war, the only acceptable answer is to escalate it. We can never surrender, even if we should. So, our War on Drugs must go on forever, no matter how futile, no matter how terrible the results and no matter how counterproductive. It would be weak to ever admit we made a mistake.

Over the last two years we spent $1.6 billion on the Merida Project, where we asked the Mexican government to escalate their War on Drugs. The result? Over the last three years, nearly 25,000 Mexicans have been killed in the drug wars. This is madness. The amount of drugs entering our country is not appreciably different. We lost, drugs won.

But the crime and the horrific drug violence are not related to drug users; they're related to drug dealers. It's the prohibition itself that is causing this crime wave. Just like it did during alcohol prohibition, when Al Capone and all the mobsters reigned supreme here. When are we ever going to learn our lesson? We keep spending insane amounts of money on wars that cannot be won.

Like the War on Terror. Who declares war on a tactic? How do you win that war? Until all of the "terrorists" are dead? Which ones? Until everyone promises not to use that tactic anymore? The reality is it's an excuse to spend huge amounts of money on an endless project that will profit the defense industry for decades to come.

But there was one war we decided to give up on -- the War on Alcohol. And thank God we did! Could you imagine if we were still fighting that battle? If they had passed that law, let alone the amendment, these days, we would never reverse position because it would seem unmanly. So, we would be stuck fighting a useless and wildly counterproductive war on a perfectly fine recreational habit. Kind of like we do now with marijuana.

We have to recognize when something isn't working. The Cuban embargo isn't about to breakthrough in its fiftieth year. It didn't work. Let it go. The Castros still run Cuba and it's way past time to try a new approach. It doesn't mean we have to embrace the Cuban government, it just means we have to try something new to tackle the problem.

The same is true of the so-called War on Drugs. If it really was a war, we lost. It turns out people still want to get high, no matter how hard we try to stop them.

We have to end this stupid, senseless war. It's killing us, literally.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Imagine if We Never Ended the War on Alcohol

Remember we did have a War on Alcohol. It was called Prohibition. In fact, we took that far more seriously than our War on Drugs. We even passed a constituional amendment about it. Of course, the gigantic difference is that we realized that was a mistake and reversed course.

These days it doesn't seem politically possible to ever change course. If you start a war, the only acceptable answer is to escalate it. We can never surrender, even if we should. So, our War on Drugs must go on forever, no matter how futile, no matter how terrible the results and no matter how counterproductive. It would be weak to ever admit we made a mistake.

Over the last two years we spent $1.6 billion on the Merida Project, where we asked the Mexican government to escalate their War on Drugs. The result? Over the last three years, nearly 25,000 Mexicans have been killed in the drug wars. This is madness. The amount of drugs entering our country is not appreciably different. We lost, drugs won.

But the crime and the horrific drug violence are not related to drug users; they're related to drug dealers. It's the prohibition itself that is causing this crime wave. Just like it did during alcohol prohibition, when Al Capone and all the mobsters reigned supreme here. When are we ever going to learn our lesson? We keep spending insane amounts of money on wars that cannot be won.

Like the War on Terror. Who declares war on a tactic? How do you win that war? Until all of the "terrorists" are dead? Which ones? Until everyone promises not to use that tactic anymore? The reality is it's an excuse to spend huge amounts of money on an endless project that will profit the defense industry for decades to come.

But there was one war we decided to give up on -- the War on Alcohol. And thank God we did! Could you imagine if we were still fighting that battle? If they had passed that law, let alone the amendment, these days, we would never reverse position because it would seem unmanly. So, we would be stuck fighting a useless and wildly counterproductive war on a perfectly fine recreational habit. Kind of like we do now with marijuana.

We have to recognize when something isn't working. The Cuban embargo isn't about to breakthrough in its fiftieth year. It didn't work. Let it go. The Castros still run Cuba and it's way past time to try a new approach. It doesn't mean we have to embrace the Cuban government, it just means we have to try something new to tackle the problem.

The same is true of the so-called War on Drugs. If it really was a war, we lost. It turns out people still want to get high, no matter how hard we try to stop them.

We have to end this stupid, senseless war. It's killing us, literally.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

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