Scapegoating the Vulnerable: Preventive Detention of Immigrants in America’s ‘War on Terror’
Studies in Law, Politics and Society, Vol. 38, pp. 25-69, 2006
28 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 16, 2010
Since September 2001, the Bush administration has developed a series of mechanisms, by-passing due process protections, to indefinitely detain immigrant men, predominantly of Middle Eastern background, on a civil immigration pretext. This paper will argue that the nation’s immigration laws are being misused to craft a system of preventive administrative detention. These detentions often give rise to imprisonment without charge for weeks and months, denial of access to lawyers or family visitation, interrogations and threats during the period of detention, physical and psychological abuse and ultimately deportations without a fair initial hearing or the exhaustion of available appellate recourse.
This new system of civil detention is specifically designed to weaken constitutional due process protections. The consequences of this erosion of procedural protections have been devastating, ranging from the terrorization of immigrant communities to the rise of detainee abuse on an unprecedented scale. Civil detention has also been correlated to the practice of “renditions,” whereby individuals detained in the U.S. are deported to countries more willing to engage in overt torture practices in continued interrogation post-deportation. The combination of detention practices within the U.S. and the “rendition” of detainees to countries known to engage in torture, makes explicit the link, under the Bush administration, between the violations of procedural rights in the U.S. and the violations of the laws of war outside of the U.S. This paper will contribute to an understanding of how the war on immigrants is an integral part of America’s war on terror strategy. This analysis will also highlight some of the similarities between the evolving administrative detention system in the United States and the longer standing practice of administrative detention in Israel.
Keywords: immigration, preventive detention, post-September 11, procedural protections, special registration
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