Monday, June 25, 2018

The Day of the Government's Death Was a Dark, Cold Day

Habeas corpus, the right of the accused to be brought before a court of law, is so important it is protected by Article 1, Section 9, clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution.  Due process is so important it appears in the 5th Amendment and again in the 14th Amendment, and it applies to persons; not to citizens or any other distinction, but to persons.

"Persons" includes immigrants, however they happen to be in this country.

In an attempt to defend Donald Trump's multiple tweets that due process of law should be denied to immigrants, Sarah Sanders said this today:

“Just because you don’t see a judge doesn’t mean you aren’t receiving due process,” she added. “We’d like to have secure borders. The democrats are the ones that want open borders.”

Actually, not having access to a judge is the very definition of a lack of due process.  It is effectively the suspension of habeas corpus, and a wholesale denial of the provisions of the 14th Amendment.  In the context of her remarks, yes, immigrants can voluntarily waive their rights to a court appearance; but it turns out that is being extorted from them.

Central American men separated from their children and held in a detention facility outside Houston are being told they can reunite with their kids at the airport if they agree to sign a voluntary deportation order now, according to one migrant at the facility and two immigration attorneys who have spoken to detainees there.

A Honduran man who spoke to The Texas Tribune Saturday estimated that 20 to 25 men who have been separated from their children are being housed at the IAH Polk County Secure Adult Detention Center, a privately-operated U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility for men located 75 miles outside Houston. He said the majority of those detainees had received the same offer of reunification in exchange for voluntary deportation.
Trump can't get his way with the American people, so he's going to get it from the immigrants he so despises.  Americans despise his "policy" so much, the camp in Tornillo, Texas may well shut down when its contract expires on July 13.   I assume that will not prompt the clucking of tongues that privately asking Sarah Sanders to take her business elsewhere engendered.  I assume no one will even notice, even though the official in charge of the camp said:  “ 'It was an incredibly dumb, stupid decision,' he said, adding several times he hopes to never again conduct an operation like this one."  Well, he didn't say it on cable TV or use Twitter, so it's a matter of a tree falling in the forest and the media isn't there to hear it.

Telling people they get their kids back if they agree to return to the hellhole that drove them across the length of Mexico in the first place is not exactly reaching a 'voluntary agreement.'  It's more akin to what you would expect from thugs, who, not surprisingly, don't want you to go before a judge, either.

Are the children even being reunited with their parents?  No.

Several legal aid providers have criticized the process, saying it consists of little more than a 1-800 number that parents of other advocates can call to get information on where their children are. 
According to Dahlia Lithwick, the 1-800 number doesn't even work.  She argues the Trump Administration never meant to reunite the parents and the children.  She argues this chaos is a feature, not a bug.  I'm not sure explicit malice is necessary to explain the incompetence.  I'm just as comfortable with the simpler answer, that they don't care; that Trump is having such a corrosive effect on the bureaucracy that the officials on the ground, in the best stereotyped vision of the Germans under the Nazis, just don't care about what's being done, and are just getting on with doing it.  Nobody stopped to say "wait a minute!  We can't separate families and damn the consequences!," but that's exactly what they've done.  Thousands of people, and none of them ever gave a thought to the fact they were dealing with human beings.  They understand housing bodies, providing bedding and sanitation and food; but we do the same for cats, dogs, and livestock.  We aren't supposed to treat human beings like brute animals, but that is precisely what we are doing, and large numbers of our fellow citizens are happily and silently and passively complicit.  The BCFS official in Tornillo is the outlier, the person with a conscience, the one willing to be uncivil enough to say:  "Enough!"

Can the U.S. government even comply with its offer to reunite families who will self-deport (and what does that mean?  A flight back to the land they fled?  Or simply being put across the river into Mexico?)?  There is no indication they can do anymore than get individual to agree to leave, and after that, the government is done with them.  Their children?  Someone somewhere will find homes for those orphaned by force; or not.

They're just immigrants, after all.  Who cares?  They aren't "our" kids.

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