We call for dignity, not detention!

From the Restore Fairness blog-

When Esmeralda, a transgender asylum seeker from Mexico, came to the US seeking a place that was accepting of her identity, what she received instead was a horrific experience in immigration detention. Kept in a segregated cell with other transgender detainees, Esmeralda never realized that her experience in detention would match the trauma of discrimination she had faced back home. “They would handcuff us as if we were murderers and were trying to escape…. but we were not trying to run away,” she said. While handcuffed in a cell, she was sexually abused by an immigration guard, an experience which caused her deep mental and emotional trauma.

The US immigration detention system is in deep crisis. Since 1994 the number of detention beds has grown from 5,000 to over 33,000 with more than 1.7 million individuals passing through the system since 2003. The government is denying due process and fairness in our communities by detaining immigrants who pose no danger and are not a flight risk to the community in inhumane and unregulated detention centers. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are detained each year. Transferred far away from their homes and families, there are many stories of detainees such as Esmeralda who are denied basic human rights, such as telephone calls, visitation,access to a lawyer, medical care, and they can be subject to physical and verbal abuse. Even with reported deaths of detained immigrants, detention conditions continue to decline.

Today, human rights groups around the country participated in a National Day of Action organized by Detention Watch Network to mark the one-year anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) 2009 detention reform announcement. The National Day of Action is part of the, “Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights and Restoring Justice,” campaign led by the Detention Watch Network, which calls for an end to the human rights abuses in detention centers, the restoration of due process in the enforcement of immigration laws, and the implementation of cost saving alternatives.

As part of the Day of Action, Detention Watch Network released a joint report, Year One Report Card: Human Rights & the Obama Administration’s Immigration Detention Reforms, that it co-authored with the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights. The report reveals that many of those detained still suffer egregious human rights violations while in custody. Immigrants continue to be jailed for months or even years under substandard conditions. Mistreatment by guards, grossly deficient medical care, use of solitary of confinement, and limited access to family and counsel remain persistent problems.

Detention should only be used as the last possible option and for the shortest amount of time. Currently, many vulnerable people, including asylum seekers, pregnant women, children, lawful permanent residents and even U.S. citizens are among those detained, without knowing how long they will be held or why they are being held. Instead of placing thousands in detention centers that cost tax payers $99 per day, DHS should improve legislation around the cost-saving community-based alternatives to detention such as conditional release, requiring people to check in either in person or by phone, bonds or financial deposits.

Participants in the National Day of Action are calling for the restoration of human rights within the detention system, and an end to programs that indiscriminately channel immigrants into the detention and deportation system. Coordinated actions occurred across the country in cities including Austin, TX, Freehold, NJ, Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA and Trenton, NJ.  For more information visit www.dignitynotdetention.org

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

We call for dignity, not detention!

From the Restore Fairness blog-

When Esmeralda, a transgender asylum seeker from Mexico, came to the US seeking a place that was accepting of her identity, what she received instead was a horrific experience in immigration detention. Kept in a segregated cell with other transgender detainees, Esmeralda never realized that her experience in detention would match the trauma of discrimination she had faced back home. “They would handcuff us as if we were murderers and were trying to escape…. but we were not trying to run away,” she said. While handcuffed in a cell, she was sexually abused by an immigration guard, an experience which caused her deep mental and emotional trauma.

The US immigration detention system is in deep crisis. Since 1994 the number of detention beds has grown from 5,000 to over 33,000 with more than 1.7 million individuals passing through the system since 2003. The government is denying due process and fairness in our communities by detaining immigrants who pose no danger and are not a flight risk to the community in inhumane and unregulated detention centers. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are detained each year. Transferred far away from their homes and families, there are many stories of detainees such as Esmeralda who are denied basic human rights, such as telephone calls, visitation,access to a lawyer, medical care, and they can be subject to physical and verbal abuse. Even with reported deaths of detained immigrants, detention conditions continue to decline.

Today, human rights groups around the country participated in a National Day of Action organized by Detention Watch Network to mark the one-year anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) 2009 detention reform announcement. The National Day of Action is part of the, “Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights and Restoring Justice,” campaign led by the Detention Watch Network, which calls for an end to the human rights abuses in detention centers, the restoration of due process in the enforcement of immigration laws, and the implementation of cost saving alternatives.

As part of the Day of Action, Detention Watch Network released a joint report, Year One Report Card: Human Rights & the Obama Administration’s Immigration Detention Reforms, that it co-authored with the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights. The report reveals that many of those detained still suffer egregious human rights violations while in custody. Immigrants continue to be jailed for months or even years under substandard conditions. Mistreatment by guards, grossly deficient medical care, use of solitary of confinement, and limited access to family and counsel remain persistent problems.

Detention should only be used as the last possible option and for the shortest amount of time. Currently, many vulnerable people, including asylum seekers, pregnant women, children, lawful permanent residents and even U.S. citizens are among those detained, without knowing how long they will be held or why they are being held. Instead of placing thousands in detention centers that cost tax payers $99 per day, DHS should improve legislation around the cost-saving community-based alternatives to detention such as conditional release, requiring people to check in either in person or by phone, bonds or financial deposits.

Participants in the National Day of Action are calling for the restoration of human rights within the detention system, and an end to programs that indiscriminately channel immigrants into the detention and deportation system. Coordinated actions occurred across the country in cities including Austin, TX, Freehold, NJ, Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA and Trenton, NJ.  For more information visit www.dignitynotdetention.org

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

Obama DOJ On The Wrong Side Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight."

-1964 Republican presidential nominee & U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater

In what world would Republicans have a better gay rights record than that of a so-called progressive, Democratic presidential administration?

We are living in that world, 2010 America, and a GOP-allied group paid more than lip-service to the nation's gay community as the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama hemmed and hawed their way around an important GLBT issue.

Six years after first taking legal action to overturn the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy, the Log Cabin Republicans won a victory for gay Americans everywhere. United States District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is unconstitutional.

There's more...

It's the Democracy, Stupid?

One of the most offensive tendencies of beleaguered establishmentarians faced with the utter collapse of their precious conventional wisdom is to bemoan—or to rethink, they might protest—this brilliant representative democracy bequeathed to us by the Founders in unabashedly elitist tones. To be sure, this line of thinking often bears the appearance of innocuous experimental thought but bespeaks, at best, fecklessness, and more likely are signs of intellectual depravity. As a liberal—affected by what may be called trademark self-flagellation—I am wont to focus on this insidious tic when it is found on the left. Conservatives and reactionaries craving for the relative warmth of authoritarianism is, to me, rather unsurprising and therefore barely worth noting. What can we expect from “small-government” folk with a nary a peep to say about the warrantless surveillance of American citizens or the stupid morality of strictly-enforced marijuana prohibition?

I can think of at least three prominent liberals that gave voice to this dangerous nonsense recently—the first of whom is quite brilliant: Woody Allen (Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors—I mean, c’mon!); Tom Friedman, the unfortunate suck-up; and Joe Klein in Time magazine just today.

I had been minding my own business, reading Time’s mild-mannered attempt to explain what has come to be regarded as Barack Obama’s stunning failure as president, when the title “How Can a Democracy Solve Tough Problems?” on the right side of the screen seemed to lunge at me. (Who knew the unlikely symbiosis of ganja and righteous indignation could be that kickass?)

If you asked me, what's the most disappointing thing Barack Obama has done as President? I'd say, He appointed a "blue-ribbon" commission to study the federal deficit. I mean, how boring and worthy and worthless! Such commissions are an instant admission of defeat: We lack the political will to deal with (insert long-term crisis here), so we're appointing a blue-ribbon commission to study it. The process is inevitable, especially in these days of rising partisan contentiousness. A consensus won't be reached on the really tough issues. A high-minded, peripheral idea or two may emerge — frosting on a soap bubble — and then evaporate ... or worse, actually be implemented, as was the 9/11 commission's foolishly redundant suggestion of a Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI), plopped atop the CIA and military spook agencies. No doubt yet another commission will eventually be appointed to study abolishing the DNI.

Let’s rest here for a second. While this represents a digression from our main point here, Joe Klein’s treatment of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform as some sort of passing joke requires special attention and derision. Rather than being a source of amusement, this commission is a sinister assembly co-chaired by former senator Al Simpson (who’s more like the comically evil Creed Bratton than Homer’s dad as far as I’m concerned) and includes the likes of Paul Ryan, the House Republicans’ resident budget wonk. (Yes, there’s only one—and even he demonstrates how carelessly that encomium is bestowed these days.)

There's more...

It's the Democracy, Stupid?

One of the most offensive tendencies of beleaguered establishmentarians faced with the utter collapse of their precious conventional wisdom is to bemoan—or to rethink, they might protest—this brilliant representative democracy bequeathed to us by the Founders in unabashedly elitist tones. To be sure, this line of thinking often bears the appearance of innocuous experimental thought but bespeaks, at best, fecklessness, and more likely are signs of intellectual depravity. As a liberal—affected by what may be called trademark self-flagellation—I am wont to focus on this insidious tic when it is found on the left. Conservatives and reactionaries craving for the relative warmth of authoritarianism is, to me, rather unsurprising and therefore barely worth noting. What can we expect from “small-government” folk with a nary a peep to say about the warrantless surveillance of American citizens or the stupid morality of strictly-enforced marijuana prohibition?

I can think of at least three prominent liberals that gave voice to this dangerous nonsense recently—the first of whom is quite brilliant: Woody Allen (Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors—I mean, c’mon!); Tom Friedman, the unfortunate suck-up; and Joe Klein in Time magazine just today.

I had been minding my own business, reading Time’s mild-mannered attempt to explain what has come to be regarded as Barack Obama’s stunning failure as president, when the title “How Can a Democracy Solve Tough Problems?” on the right side of the screen seemed to lunge at me. (Who knew the unlikely symbiosis of ganja and righteous indignation could be that kickass?)

If you asked me, what's the most disappointing thing Barack Obama has done as President? I'd say, He appointed a "blue-ribbon" commission to study the federal deficit. I mean, how boring and worthy and worthless! Such commissions are an instant admission of defeat: We lack the political will to deal with (insert long-term crisis here), so we're appointing a blue-ribbon commission to study it. The process is inevitable, especially in these days of rising partisan contentiousness. A consensus won't be reached on the really tough issues. A high-minded, peripheral idea or two may emerge — frosting on a soap bubble — and then evaporate ... or worse, actually be implemented, as was the 9/11 commission's foolishly redundant suggestion of a Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI), plopped atop the CIA and military spook agencies. No doubt yet another commission will eventually be appointed to study abolishing the DNI.

Let’s rest here for a second. While this represents a digression from our main point here, Joe Klein’s treatment of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform as some sort of passing joke requires special attention and derision. Rather than being a source of amusement, this commission is a sinister assembly co-chaired by former senator Al Simpson (who’s more like the comically evil Creed Bratton than Homer’s dad as far as I’m concerned) and includes the likes of Paul Ryan, the House Republicans’ resident budget wonk. (Yes, there’s only one—and even he demonstrates how carelessly that encomium is bestowed these days.)

There's more...

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