December 16, 2006

Where are they?

Right now, where are the legal immigrants that were rounded up in Homeland Security operations this week?

Where are they?

What's next? Maybe we should start a letter writing campaign, since trying to engage habeus corpus isn't necessarily going to get us anywhere. These are the guidelines AI lists for writing to governments on behalf of those imprisoned simply for their beliefs. It's not such a stretch that the guidelines would be appropriate for those imprisoned simply for the color of their skin.

There are a number of disturbing aspects of the recent Homeland Security raids intended to snare illegal immigrants at various workplaces suspected of hiring them, not the least of which, as TPM Muckracker's Justin Rood reports, is that a number of legal immigrants were caught up in the sweeps:

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."

But there is a second aspect of this that is equally disturbing: as Rood's followup report points out, racial profiling was in play during these raids:

DHS agents allegedly separated workers by their skin color -- light-skinned were considered citizens, dark-skinned got scrutiny. Predicatably, they swept up at least one dark-skinned U.S. citizen up with immigrant workers.

The Salt Lake Tribune report he cites contains a vivid illustration of what happened:

If only for a few minutes, Maria felt like an "illegal alien" in her homeland -- the United States of America.

She thought she was going on break from her job at the Swift &; Co. meat processing plant here [in Hyrem, Utah] on Tuesday, but instead she and others were forced to stand in a line by U.S. immigration agents. Non-Latinos and people with lighter skin were plucked out of line and given blue bracelets.

The rest, mostly Latinos with brown skin, waited until they were "cleared" or arrested by "la migra," the popular name in Spanish for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), employees said.

"I was in the line because of the color of my skin," she said, her voice shaking. "They're discriminating against me. I'm from the United States, and I didn't even get a blue bracelet."

The arrest of legal immigrants and citizens is the most obvious flaw in racial profiling like this. The larger problem is that racial profiling is wrong in principle, particularly as a matter of law enforcement. It contradicts the notion of equal protection under the law, and when applied in these circumstances, it underscores the institutional racism latent within immigration law itself.

This isn't the first time we've seen this kind of racial profiling in ICE raids. Back in August, as Citizen Steve reported, the ICE performed a similar raid on a Bellingham linen firm:

Where are they?

Posted by binky at December 16, 2006 04:56 PM | TrackBack | Posted to J. Edgar Hoover | Law and the Courts | Liberty | The Ever Shrinking Constitution

Post a comment

Remember personal info?