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  • Writer's pictureHannah Telluselle

The illegal detention of immigrants

You can't just lock up people, because they don't hold the same nationality as you do. When I was locked up by ICE in 2011, in the United States, I didn't even know they existed. I had only heard of CBP and USCIS; the police by the border, and the office where to apply for visas. How could I, who had a valid visa, suddenly become locked up?

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), only people who have been convicted of aggravated felonies and/or committed crimes of moral turpitude, should be held detained awaiting deportation. I was never convicted of a crime, less an aggravated felony. Yet, I was held for 338 days. And I was not the only one.

The point thus is, even if some people have to become deported, it shouldn't be the foundation for being put in handcuffs, without any reading of rights, and then placed in prison uniforms together with convicted felons. It's not a crime to travel to another country, especially not with a valid visa. If the United States wants to make this into a crime, with time to serve and/or fines, they would have to make this into law first and then inform the world. Until then, it's always a breach of Human rights, to detain a non-US citizen in the United States, only on the basis of that. It's very simple. Just compare what you accuse the immigrant of doing, with what an American is or has. Would an American go into prison indefinitely due to a divorce, loosing or changing jobs, or not being able to afford a raised tuition to study full time at a university? And most of all, would Americans accept to become detained in any foreign country, just on the basis of being American?

What I have gathered, this started becoming a practice in 1996, through a bill enforced by the Bill Clinton administration, when many Haitians were fleeing to the United States and they wanted to halt the inflow. But again, it's not a crime to be from Haiti. So, to me it's obvious, that the borders have to be more enforced and people allowed to turn around without repercussion at the port of entries. And those seeking asylum, simply need to fill out the form and leave it at the border, then be admitted and allowed to work, as well as receive welfare if needed, and any emergency care. Just hand out social security numbers directly - after all, it's also how you can receive taxes and how you can keep track of everybody

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