I love Catholic social justice activists - they must have a liberation theology, or a real working faith. It's not just the people of the cloth, either - from poor farmers under threat of death squads, to youth who chain themselves to the gates at Fort Benning, with great dignity and righteousness they defy the power that defiles their land and people. They spill their blood on nuclear missle silos, chastise the federal judges who sentence them, and after spending months or years in jail or prison, they come out and act up again. Some are incorrigible.
You'll never know most of their names as political prisoners of the times; it's never about them, anyway. It's about justice. They seem to prefer the new and improved edition of God's Word on such things; they don't see justice as retribution to be delivered; they see justice as fairness, a condition we must actively create and nurture in the world, in our lives, every day. They fueled the Sanctuary Movement of the 80's, when we were slaughtering the poor throughout Latin America, challenging all sorts of state and federal laws, often colluding with others and engaging entire cities in open rebellion.
That's who Russ Pearce is trying to bury with his legislation criminalizing "alien" sympathizers and outlawing "Sanctuary Cities". Between his attacks on government employees who fail to report even suspected "illegals" now, and his plan to tag and shadow undocumented school children (and their families, of course) until such a date as we decide what to do with them - which will apparently depend on how much of an economic drain we think they are - Pearce and his people are really showing their true colors. I just hope the rest of this state isn't under as much racist control as they would have us think it is.
Network calling for immigration reform
By Stephen Gurr
POSTED Feb. 24, 2010 11:24 p.m.
A group of protesters plans to hold a prayer vigil today in front of the North Georgia Detention Center on Main Street as part of a nationwide campaign calling attention to federal immigration detention policies.
The group, made up mostly of members of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, has obtained a permit from Gainesville police to demonstrate at about noon on the sidewalk outside the building, site of the old Hall County jail and now being leased by Hall County to the private Corrections Corporation of America.
The vigil is part of a national campaign launched today by the Detention Watch Network called, "Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights and Restoring Justice."
"Nationally, the campaign is directed toward President Obama, asking that the expansion of immigration detention be stopped," said Azadeh Shahshahani, immigrants’ rights project director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. "Locally, we are asking Immigration and Customs Enforcement to put in place binding standards for treatment of detainees, to rely on more humane and community-based alternatives to detention and to put a stop to the transfer of detainees from facility to facility, away from their families and communities."
The North Georgia Detention Center can hold as many as 500 detainees, who are people identified as being in the country illegally and awaiting deportation by ICE. Most of the detainees at the center are not from the Hall County area. A large number are brought to the center from the Charlotte, N.C., area.
Most detainees spend between 30 and 90 days at the facility before moving on. Hall County entered into an agreement with ICE to hold the detainees, with CCA acting as a subcontractor. The company leases the facility from Hall County for $2 million a year.
The Gainesville protest is one of several planned today across the country and may be the smallest. The other protests will be staged in Phoenix, San Antonio, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Alan Shope, the chairman of St. Michael Catholic Church’s social justice committee and a local organizer of what he said will be a prayer vigil, said the purpose is to call for immigration reform.
"We do think a nation has to secure its borders, but at the same time we think it should be done in a way that doesn’t hurt families," Shope said.
Shope said the church was trying to "walk the line" of protesting the system while respecting the employees of Corrections Corporation of America. Shope said the church has a good relationship with the North Georgia Detention Center’s warden, Stacey Stone. The church’s priest is allowed in to celebrate Mass with the detainees, Shope said.
"We have not seen any of the abuse or neglect here that you hear about at some other detention centers," Shope said. "Our problem is not with any specific instances in this facility; it’s with the overall system it’s a part of."
Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen said in a statement that CCA "provides services for immigration detention, but, as a company, does not take a position with respect to the broader immigration policy.
(I have to just pause here and call this BS what it is. You know that every private prison company in the world is pumping money into politicians and "research" which support prolonged immigrant detention - they've planned to fill detention facilities for decades out. When they run out of immigrants and refugees and aliens to put there, they'll either go broke or have to justify incarcerating citizens. Rest assured, CCA and their kin are not neutral on the issue of criminal justice and immigrant detention policy - they are loaded with lobbyists and experts to lend to the cause. Continued criminalization of marginal populations and a perpetual cycle of crime, victimization, and retribution through incarceration is where the future profit of their industry lies.)
"However, CCA strives to humanely operate a safe, secure facility that upholds the dignity of all detainees entrusted in our care," Owen said.
Owen said ICE has staff on-site at the detention center and that CCA is contractually required to meet the federal agency’s detention standards.
Ivan Ortiz-Delgado, a spokesman for ICE, said in a statement that the agency "respects the fundamental right of individuals to advocate for reform of our nation’s immigration laws.
"Moreover, last fall, ICE announced a major overhaul of the immigration detention system to prioritize health, safety and uniformity among our facilities while ensuring security, efficiency and fiscal responsibility," Ortiz-Delgado said. "These reforms include aggressive steps to increase oversight and fundamentally change the immigration detention system. ICE has taken important initial steps to change this system and is committed to finishing the job."