Immigrant Limbo

(because if we’re going to build buhdy’s “Big Picture,” this is an essential part of it! (promoted 2:18 PM EST) – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

When ancient Christian theologians began examining the system of eternal rewards and punishments manifested in the concepts of heaven and hell, they were soon faced with a conundrum. What would the fates be of those virtuous souls who had lived and died long before Christ’s earthy arrival, or those who died in infancy before baptism?  They neither qualified for heavenly inclusion nor deserved condemnation to hell.

The wise biblical scholars decided that there existed a place that was neither heaven nor hell. …A place for the righteous unsaved called Limbo, somewhere between heavenly bliss and the tortures of eternal damnation.

Today in the United States there exists for millions of foreign-born legal residents a different kind of Limbo. A legal limbo for those who have not been afforded the full rights and privileges guaranteed by citizenship but are spared the daily hell of the living as outcasts as undocumented immigrants.

Perhaps the cruelest part about Legal Resident Limbo is that most who live there, not unlike the un-baptized infants of the “Inferno,” have no idea that they have not reached the Promised Land. They go about their daily lives believing that, unlike the undocumented, their status assures them some protections against unwarranted detention, lack of due process, or deportation.

Most believe that if they commit minor infractions of the law they will be afforded the same privileges of all Americans. They believe that if convicted of a minor offense, once paying their debt to society, will be free to go on with their lives.

They do not to live in fear of being pulled over at traffic stops or calling for emergency assistance. They’re legal residents after all; they have no reason to fear the law.

Yet for many, they are living in a Limbo of false security.

In 1996 Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and a dramatic erosion of due process and civil liberties protection for noncitizens began.

Expanding the grounds for deportation and redefining what constitutes an aggravated felony when committed by noncitizens, the 1996 law subjected many long-term immigrants to mandatory detention and automatic deportation for relatively insignificant crimes such as shoplifting or marijuana possession. 

Today, in our current climate of fear and intolerance, these laws are now being applied retroactively, forcing many first time offenders and those who were found guilty of youthful indiscretions, in some cases, many decades ago, to be expelled.

“Monica” has been a legal permanent resident in U.S.for 24 years. Born in Bolivia, she moved here at the age of three. She was a good student and daughter, and received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. But like many young people, she made a mistake in her youth.  She got arrested once on a minor drug charge for picking up drugs for a friend before a night on the town. The crime was minor, and resulted in nothing more “accommodation ticket” as its penalty. “Monica” then went on with her life.

Yet, Six years later, upon returning from a family vacation, she was detained for the same prior drug charge. She is currently in detention, facing deportation for a crime she had already paid the price for. 

These stories are becoming all too common as the concept of due process disappears for those living in immigration Limbo.

More Information on detention and deportation:
  Restoring the Right to Due Process  PDF. (Breakthough /Detention Watch)
Detention Watch
 

4 comments

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    • duke1676 on September 24, 2007 at 7:46 pm
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    • duke1676 on September 24, 2007 at 8:07 pm
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    Under US immigration law, crimes are often classified differently for those with various  immigration status.

    What might be one class of crime for a US citizen may be an entirely different class of crime for non-citizen residents or the undocumented.

    Often when crafting immigration law, legislators widen the classifications in attempts to look “tough on illegal immigration, drug smugglers, or gang members” ..they look to immigration law the way those fighting organized crime look to the tax codes – to be a way to prosecute those who might not be able to be prosecuted otherwise.

    But in their haste to make political hay, they put millions in jeopardy of facing the severest penalties for only minor crimes.

    The reclassification under immigration law of many minor offenses as “aggravated felonies” when committed by non-citizens says much about the fallacy of “equal protection under the law”

    • pico on September 25, 2007 at 12:54 am

    if you’re getting no comments, it’s likely because other readers like me are absorbing but have nothing productive to add.  Thank you for cross posting this here.

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