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Thursday, Dec 24, 2009, 1:38 pm

Weekly Diaspora: ICE Perpetuating Human Rights Abuses

By Nezua
Ed. Note: This week’s Diaspora is short due to the holidays. We’ll be back to full-length next week.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, apparently isn't beholden to US or international law. In The Nation,
Jacqueline Stevens reveals the "clandestine operations, akin to extraordinary renditions" carried out by ICE.

Beyond the department's public list of detention facilities—many of which are already sites of alleged abuse—ICE is also "confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices" around the nation. According to Alison Parker, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, these secret detention centers may violate the UN's Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is a signatory.

But what's most appalling is ICE's assertion that the department is some sort of super-police with powers of rendition. James Pendergraph, former executive director of ICE's Office of State and Local Coordination, said in late 2008 that "if you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally, but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear." The boldness with which a law official would state such an idea is confounding; the confession, if true, is criminal.

Last week, The Diaspora wrote about the introduction of the CIR ASAP immigration bill by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). Freshman Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) is a recent addition to the list of 87 cosponsors on the bill, as The Colorado Independent reported last Wednesday. This is a positive step forward. The bill will most likely be sponsored in the senate by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). CIR ASAP establishes a basic layout of progressive immigration reform, but the final bill will probably become more focused on enforcement in Schumer's hands.

Finally, David Moberg reports on the Obama administration's controversial use of "audits" to purge employment payrolls of undocumented workers for In These Times. While the audit method is much quieter and less likely to make headlines, it is also ineffective. Not only do audits rely upon "flawed federal databases" to judge who is documented, they also purge immigrants who are "legal."

As the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Executive Vice-President Eliseo Medina explains, workers fired as a result of ICE probes or audits do find other, lower-paying jobs that offer even less protection to the worker. Ultimately the number of undocumented workers in the US remains the same, and the entire exercise but "a losing game of musical chairs." Medina stresses that SEIU is not suggesting the law shouldn't be enforced, simply that it be enforced in a way that works.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
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