Using Undocumented for Slave Labor

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary One of the saddest chapters of the immigration debate is how the U.S. government treats those in detention. It is bad enough that those in detention have to remain there until their cases are processed and they are then deported. Now the U.S. government has partnered with corporate business to use the labor of the undocumented for whatever reasons. Since the undocumented are simply being held in detention, they are not entitled to lawyers as those who are being held on criminal charges. Since violating immigration law is considered a civil violation rather than a criminal one, those who are put into detention are not allowed the same basic rights and protections. Worse, corporate business has established private prisons to use the forced labor of those in detention for their own purposes, and this is all by agreement with U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Let us make no mistake about what detention is—it is prison by another name. Those in detention are prisoners forced to wear prison clothing and treated as prisoners. But most disgusting is the fact that these people, who are being held on immigration violations, are being forced to work against their will to fill the pockets of corporations profiting from the forced labor of these people. And when you come down to it, the people being put into these so-called detention centers would most likely never end up in a prison for criminals. Things like traffic violations, possession of small amounts of marijuana, even using a wrong turn signal can get not only undocumented but even legal permanent residents in these detention centers for months and up to two years without the benefit of lawyers (unlike in a criminal court, where suspects can get court-appointed lawyers. undocumented have to pay for their own lawyers if they can get them). Their cases are decided solely by immigration judges.

Tragically, legal immigrants are in as much danger of these detention places because of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. If they committed a crime in the past and then try to apply for U.S. citizenship, these crimes can be brought back and they can be detained and then deported for something they already served time for in a prison. One of the reasons why our detention are forcing undocumented to work is because of the profit motive. Harsh laws and rules are being made as I write this by corporation who are working in tandem with the U.S. government to set up prisons for profit. And of course, undocumented prisoners are locked up for exploiting their labor. But it must be made clear that this detention for profit has no place and should have no place in a country that prides itself on prividing rights and protections to all regardless of their immigration status.

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