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In the News 8-9-2010

August 9, 2010

In the News 8-9-2010

A couple of recent editorials in the New York Times highlight critical issues regarding refugees and immigration detainees: In Vulnerable Refugees, Losing a Lifeline (August 8, 2010) the editors note that In less than two months, unless Congress acts quickly, thousands of refugees who fled for their lives from places like Iran, Cuba, Russia, Somalia and Vietnam — and who are now elderly, disabled and poor — are about to learn the cold limits of compassion…The letters are already going out.” At that point roughly 3,800 refugees — the first of many more – will lose the relatively paltry welfare benefits currently available to them.

“…those affected by the looming deadline are not like other immigrants, and are unusually vulnerable. They did not come here for jobs. They are all by definition survivors of persecution, torture or warfare…Many have no relatives here. Some are homebound, and were already past 70 when they arrived, too late to learn English, highly unlikely to complete the years-long path to gaining citizenship. They are all old, ill or disabled, and the country that welcomed them is the only benefactor they have.”

In Detention and the Disabled (July 30, 2010) the paper cites a recent Human Rights Watch/American Civil Liberties Union report on the plight of immigrants with mental disabilities who are currently stuck in DHS’s convoluted and overburdened detention-and-deportation system — a system that, as documented in the report,  is “plagued by overcrowding, mistreatment and shocking medical neglect.

“For the mentally ill or disabled, often unable to understand the charges and punishment they face, the experience is even worse, with prolonged detentions and removal without a fair hearing — “deportation by default,” in the report’s words — all too common…
            “There is no official count of how many mentally disabled people go through immigration courts or detention, though the report extrapolates from statistics to estimate the number at roughly 57,000 in 2008.”

Read or download the full report, Deportation by Default, at the Human Rights Watch website.

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