Detainee musical chairs continues in the Obama Administration

This is turning into a depressing week for peace-lovin’, justice seekin’ Americans. After electing a President who said he’d bring change to America, that he’d restore our place in the world, Barack Obama has turned out to be just like all the other politicians who led in the polls. It’s not that I feel let down by him — I never believed he would do the things he promised during the primaries. So I pretty much expected he would go along with the military-industrial complex that is our federal government now, and continue the bloodshed and carnage by sending more troops to Afghanistan.

But I guess a part of me thought that as a Constitutional law professor, he might actually feel empowered enough to do something about the egregious acts that are being done to people under the guise of “defense against terrorism.” Sadly, I was wrong.

Immigration Detention System Lapses Detailed

Growing numbers of noncitizens, including legal immigrants, are held unnecessarily and transferred heedlessly in an expensive immigration detention system that denies many of them basic fairness, a bipartisan study group and a human rights organization concluded in reports released jointly on Wednesday ….

In its report, the human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, revealed government data showing 1.4 million detainee transfers from 1999 to 2008, most of them since 2006. The transfers are accelerating, the report found, with tens of thousands of longtime residents of cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles being sent to remote immigration jails in Texas and Louisiana, far from legal counsel and the evidence that might help them win release.

“ICE is increasingly subjecting detainees to a chaotic game of musical chairs, and it’s a game with dire consequences,” said Alison Parker, deputy director in the United States for the human rights group, and author of its report. The data underlying the report was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University, which issued its own report.

The inspector general’s investigation found that the consequences of haphazard transfers include a loss of access to legal counsel and relevant evidence; additional time in detention; and “errors, delays and confusion for detainees, their families, legal representatives” and the immigration courts.

I mean, it was bad enough when this stuff was going on under George W. Bush, but then he was a moron who was letting Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest run the show. But Barack Obama promised us that he would lead this nation. And since being elected, he has continued to  say he would right these wrongs, yet:

In August, the Obama administration announced ambitious plans to overhaul immigration detention, a disjointed network that relies heavily on private prisons and county jails. But taken together, the three reports underscore the gap between the plans and the problems on the ground in a system that, according to the inspector general, is estimated to be detaining more than 442,000 people a year — more than double the number in 2003, ICE’s first year of operation.

I know this is not a situation that will change overnight — but this is inexcusable.  In February of 2008 I wrote that candidate Barack Obama would not have enough experience to lead and bring about the change of which he so eloquently spoke:

He will rely on advisers and confidantes, and where have we seen this before? For the past 7 years George W. Bush has overcome his “inexperience” by bringing in Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc., and what has happened?

I hate it that I’m right.


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