Asylum Seekers Greeted With Shackles and Chains

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The New York Times reported last week that a bipartisan federal commission has found that the Bush administration, “in its zeal to secure the nation’s borders and stem the tide of illegal immigrants, may be leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to deportation and harsh treatment.”

This comes after a 2005 report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which found that immigration officials are far from welcoming when it comes to refugees fleeing persecution. The study found that asylum seekers have been incarcerated in prisonlike facilities while they wait to have their claims heard (if they haven’t been already expedited), essentially being treated as criminals.

The study also documents inhumane treatment: in one Illinois county jail, the staff used “handcuffs, bellychains, and leg shackles…when detainees leave the facility.” In addition, the study found that “the use of segregation, isolation, or solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons was widespread among the detention facilities that we sampled.”

Did you get that? You might be fleeing from torture, persecution and violence in your own country. Then you seek refuge in America- “the land of the free” – and guess what you find? More inhumane treatment!

—Neha Inamdar

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