Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The Village Voice: CityState: Immigrant Roundup by Chisun Lee

In a little-noticed showdown in Brooklyn Federal Court last Thursday, the Justice Department laid out a vigorous defense of its treatment of Muslim immigrants since September 11. The feds' central claim: noncitizens are not entitled to the basic rights of liberty and equal treatment that Americans count on.

The complaint seeks monetary damages for detainees who say they experienced abusive treatment and prolonged imprisonment for noncriminal violations. Last week the federal government urged U.S. district court judge John Gleeson to dismiss the suit.

But to do so would mean ignoring claims of mistreatment that Gleeson called "truly egregious." Along with charging that detainees have been subjected to physical abuse, coerced to waive their rights, and denied access to lawyers, the complaint alleges a host of petty torments, such as the withholding of soap and toilet paper for weeks on end and routine interruption of daily prayer. Some noncriminal detainees have been held in such conditions six months or longer after agreeing to be deported, CCR lawyers charge.

This is the policy of Empire, not America.

No comments: