Monday, May 14, 2007

Something to hide?

Jorge Bustamante, the UN Human Rights Council's independent expert on migrant rights, wraps up his investigation of human rights violations against immigrants in the U.S. this Friday. Responding to concern in the United Nations over anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, Bustamante took testimony from migrants, met with government officials, and interviewed community activists. He was in Los Angeles during the May Day immigrants' rights marches, and noted that "[t]he way the local police physically abused marchers represents right there a violation of human rights." Perhaps more concerning than the abuses seen during his visit is what Bustamante will not have seen before leaving the country on Friday: the federal government has cancelled scheduled visits to two of three immigration detention centers. Bustamante was denied access to Monmouth County Correctional Institution today -- particularly disturbing because of the ACLU's investigation of mistreatment at that jail. Even more troubling was Homeland Security's cancellation last Monday, May 7 of Bustamante's scheduled visit to the Hutto family detention center, now notorious for its imprisonment of immigrant families, as described by "Anna Koransky" [IntLawGrrl Naomi Norberg] here. Richard Grenell, the spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations claims that the United States has "nothing to hide and is comfortable showing the world our practices." But UN expert Bustamante will leave with a very different impression after being denied access to detention centers: "[m]y interpretation is that there is something the government doesn't want people to see."

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