CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Columns

March 18, 2013

COMMENTARY: U.S. Takes Wasteful Approach to Detaining Immigrants

 

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency released "several hundred" immigrants from detention facilities across the United States late last month in an effort to stay within its budget amid "fiscal uncertainty" related to the so-called sequester. More immigrants are expected to be freed soon. This is a good thing: The agency detains about 400,000 men, women and children per year, most of whom pose no threat to the United States.

Sequester fallout or not, the releases prove what critics have said for years: Detention — an arduous, sometimes lengthy and even dangerous experience — is not always necessary.

My 81-year-old uncle Joseph was taken into custody at the Miami airport in October 2004 after he requested asylum. Joseph was a throat cancer survivor with high blood pressure and an inflamed prostate. Although he had a valid visa and passport, and the airport is only about 15 minutes from my home, where my husband and I were ready to receive him, Joseph was sent to a detention facility. Rather than being released into our care until his status could be determined, he was jailed — and his prescribed medications were taken away. He died five days later. My uncle was neither a flight risk nor a danger to society. Had he been released into our care, he might still be alive.

Detention is also not a fiscally responsible method of law enforcement: It costs taxpayers as much as $164 a day to detain immigrants, the National Immigration Forum noted in August. Alternatives to detention include home visits, curfew restrictions and electronic monitoring, some of which cost as little as $14 per day, the group says.

Many who are detained have relatives who are U.S. citizens or residents. Some, while incarcerated, have been in contact with civic and religious organizations that would shelter and support these people through their deportation or asylum cases. So why not let them? The American Bar Association noted in 2010 that 84 percent of detained immigrants — including children and people with mental and physical disabilities — were going through the deportation process with no legal counsel. Although it is a fundamental principle of this country that everyone should get a fair hearing in court, thousands of would-be immigrants languish in detention centers for months without appearing before a judge who will determine whether they should be detained at all.

Text Only
Columns
  • COMMENTARY: A break from the campaign rhetoric

    The collective sigh of relief felt throughout Cullman Wednesday morning signaled the end of another primary political season the previous night. As Wednesday’s Times headline told us, it was a clean sweep.

    July 21, 2014

  • Harris Coleman COMMENTARY: Billy Coleman, a true statesman

    King Solomon said, “Pride will ruin people, but those who are humble will be honored.” He also said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Billy Coleman, the past elected superintendent of Cullman County Schools, is the living example of these wise statements of truth.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • COMMENTARY: Twisty road back to Cullman

    The young journalist who was somewhat listening to the elder newspaperman on the other side of the desk didn’t have a clue.

    July 19, 2014

  • Commentary: Why your Facebook friends are so gullible

    These stories aren't real. They're the work of the New Yorker's not-particularly-funny online satirist Andy Borowitz, but many people, not just your gullible Facebook friends, invariably believe them. Sometimes the official state news agencies of global superpowers believe them.

    March 19, 2014

  • OPINION: Who belongs in the delivery room?

    Should a father be allowed in the delivery room for the birth of his child, over the mother's objections? A New Jersey judge said no last November, in a ruling that was released in writing earlier this week.

    March 13, 2014

  • SLATE COMMENTARY: Should Detroit be allowed to issue its own visas to immigrants?

    Under the plan, immigrants coming to the U.S. under visas aimed at those with "advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in science, business or the arts" would be "required to live and work in Detroit, a city that has fallen to 700,000 residents from 1.8 million in the 1950s."

    January 29, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: Rules for babies in restaurants

    "Maybe Don't Bring Your Baby to a 3-Star Restaurant," Jezebel suggests, in response to a kerfuffle over a Chicago couple bringing their 8-month-old to the ultraexclusive restaurant Alinea because their babysitter canceled.

    January 17, 2014

  • WORKOUT-WEAR2.jpg COMMENTARY: Workout Wear Friday? No sweat, boss!

    People in fitness gear are more likely to exercise — or at least to think about it. So let's get everyone in comfortable, moisture-wicking outfits once a week to demonstrate our commitment to physical activity.

    January 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Undead and the Unborn

    In this season of ghosts and ghouls, we seem to respect the undead more than the unborn. How unfortunate. Witness the popularity of television programs featuring blood sucking vampires and walking corpses, while in Texas, a new provision making it difficult for women to get an abortion is immensely unpopular. How unbelievable.

    November 28, 2013

  • Google Is Google wrecking our memory?

    Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you've ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument, then you've no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away.

    September 27, 2013 1 Photo