My friend Iris is developing a web site that provides information and resources about the detention system in the U.S. Most people don’t realize it, but there’s a gulag of detention centers spread throughout the country in which immigrants are detained for three months or three years, usually having committed no crime but being undocumented. Sometimes they have no access to family or legal help. I’ve talked with people who fled to the U.S. to seek asylum from places like Sierra Leone; they were detained at the airport and, after spending a few months in a detention center, sent back to their lawless country.

These centers are run privately by the same companies the build and run many of our nation’s prisons. Detainees are treated like criminals, except they receive even fewer rights, including no access to counsel or to their family; families often have no idea what happened to their family members. The hypocrisy of this treatment is shocking. Many undocumented workers do the dirty work of our country that citizens are unwilling to do – picking fruit, cleaning houses, doing construction work, etc.

There’s a bill coming up that will deal these people yet another blow:

In just a few days the House of Representatives will vote on a misguided and harmful immigration proposal that would, among other things, make unlawful presence a crime. It would also make the crime of unlawful presence an aggravated felony, meaning the entire undocumented population, including 1.6 million children, would be permanently barred from the U.S.

Currently, the children of undocumented workers are considered American citizens if they are born in this country. This bill would reverse that law, meaning that children born in the U.S. would be sent back to their “home” countries even if they’ve never been there, don’t speak the language, and were formerly considered U.S. citizens. This could cause irreparable damage to millions of children and their families.

If you want to know more, go to here. This site will help you send a letter to your local congressperson asking them to oppose this bill.

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