Giving Those Who Deserve Asylum

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

A federal court ruled that the U.S. government cannot simply put innocent women and children into detention as a means of preventing them from seeking asylum in the United States. It may be gone from the news headlines, but those women and children fleeing from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras still face persecution, gang violence, and extra-judicial killings if they return or are forcibly returned. The key words are forcibly returned. What the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tried to do was keep these women and children in detention both as a means of preventing them from exercising their right to apply for political asylum and to act as a “deterrence” in preventing other women and children from coming to the United States from these Central American countries.

The court ruled that the U.S. government has exceeded its authority in using extra-legal force from those coming from Central America in the name of “national security.” The court ruled that using national security as an excuse to hold these people incognito without specifically showing how they are a threat to the United States is unacceptable. Hence, the court has ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can no longer hold women and children in detention simply to send a message that all those coming to the United States to escape persecution. This policy of holding people in detention to prevent them from applying for asylum is in fact being applied against people from Central America specifically because of the opposition to these refugees by powerful Republican and Tea Party fanatics who object to people from Central America.

Would applicants from, say, the Ukraine, be put into forcible detention to send a message to all other Ukrainians to not come to the United States? Should all Chinese be put into detention to prevent all those Chinese fleeing from persecution as a warning by the U.S. government? I at least hope this is not the case. I only know that getting asylum in the United States is a whole lot tougher than it was 20 years ago. I also know that many Americans simply do not want to see “too many” immigrants or asylum seekers come to the United States even if those who come here have a good reason to do so. But there cannot be any justification that the U.S. government should EVER deprive anyone of their liberty, even if they are undocumented fleeing from a bad situation, to be put away into detention for who knows how long as a policy message to stop others from trying to escape war or persecution in their home countries.

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