JUSTICE FOR IMMIGRANTS
Everyday, over 16,000 immigrants are detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government. Many of these individuals come here seeking political refuge. Others are U.S. residents who have committed a crime (in many cases, minor offenses) for which they have already served their appointed sentences; and, others are people whose countries can no longer provide for them, and who are simply trying to make ends meet. These people represent the human consequences of global capitalism, economic exploitation, political repression, and the increasing criminalization of immigrants.
While imprisoned, sometimes for up to nine years, incarcerated immigrants face an onslaught of human rights abuses. They are threatened and abused by guards, and often exploited for their labor by private corporations. The incarceration of immigrants is nothing new, but as a result of draconian legislation passed in 1996, immigrants are the fastest growing prison population in the U.S. This legislation has denied due process to many individuals while infringing upon their human rights. What is to be done?
On July 27, 1999, prisoners at the Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens NY went on hunger strike to protest their intolerable living conditions and the inhumane delays of the government in reviewing their asylum claims. Since then conditions have worsened for immigrants, especially since September 11, 2001. Thousands of immigrants have been detained without due process for "national security" reasons. Without a lawyer present or access to family members, immigrants are summarily deported or indefinitely incarcerated.
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