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A friend alerted me to a story over at Firedoglake about children trapped in US immigrant detention centers.  Now I'd like to alert the DKos community as well.

Some of you may recognize me as one of the diarists focusing on the Darfur genocide crisis lately.  My reasons are many, but chief among them are the children.  Sometimes in those diaries, commenters have remarked that we need to take care of our own as well.  To which I heartily agree!  So this time, I draw your attention to children right here in our own country who need our help, NOW.

As Pachacutec over at FDL says:

...here's what we need you to do:  this holiday season, while congress is out of session and your representatives are back home, please contact the local offices of your senators and congressmen and tell them this is immoral, unAmerican, and it has to stop.  Now.  None of these people are expecting calls on this, and certainly not during the holidays.  Flood their fax machines with messages, too.  If you wanted something truly good for the soul to do this holiday season, this is it.  Please act.  These families and children have no hope without you.

So what's the deal, you ask?  Here's the deal --  remember that big "illegal immigrant" sweep that happened about a week ago or so?  Well, some of those caught up in that sweep or other actions against the people who are doing the jobs no one else will take (ok, I'm biased, sue me) are taken to "immigrant detention centers" (read prison-like camps) while they await a review of their case.  Some of the people at these detention centers are seeking asylum, some are here just looking for a better life for their families.  Some brought their families, including children, with them; others may have had children since arriving.  Regardless of why they are in this country, and why they are in the detention centers, they all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  And that is where our story begins ---

From Latina Lista [note it's a slow-loading page]:

Originally, the detention facilities were touted by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a way to keep families together while waiting for their cases to come up for court review.

Well, they are accomplishing that goal - to the exclusion of being allowed any outside contact with the rest of the world, aside from those who have lawyers.

At these "family detention centers" (privately run and surely reaping a neat profit -- per person per day -- for the corporation running them), tshirts and jeans and regular clothes are gone, according to Latina Lists, prison-style uniforms are required even for littlest ones and everyone has to have a name-tags, even the infants!  According to reports, children at the Taylor TX facility receive one hour of education — English instruction — and one hour of recreation per day, usually indoors.

The news of these centers and the mistreatment of the captives is slowly leaking out:

The plight of these families caught in a government-sanctioned Hell is slowly spreading (Texas Civil Rights Review, an editorial at Austin's American Statesman, and an article at the same paper) but with Christmas less than a week away these families truly need a miracle to let them know that the outside world knows that they are there -- not to mention, the children who need to know that Santa or Los Tres Reyes, or the other Holiday entities observed by those who are not Mexican or Latin American, will know where to find them.

As the FDL diarist says:

Please contact your senators and congressmen during the holiday recess, and especially contact any newly elected members (Democrats) who have not yet been tainted by the big agricultural lobbyists and others on this subject.  Be a George Bailey this holiday season, not a Mr. Potter.  It's the right thing to do.  

So, like Pach over at FDL, I'm asking you to take action NOW.  Use the great service at Congress.org to have a letter hand-delivered to your Congresscritters (small fee involved, well worth it IMHO).  Or just look up the district office fax number by going to the home page:  enter your zip code and click on the link to the MoC to whom you are sending a fax.  Democracy made easy!!

STAND UP ---  MAKE NOISE  ---  HAVE A SAY

====================

A note from rumi at FDL about CCA:

...What is the most profitable industry in America? Weapons, oil and computer technology all offer high rates of return, but there is probably no sector of the economy so abloom with money as the privately run prison industry.

Consider the growth of the Corrections Corporation of America, the industry leader whose stock price has climbed from $8 a share in 1992 to about $30 today and whose revenue rose by 81 per cent in 1995 alone. Investors in Wackenhut Corrections Corp. have enjoyed an average return of 18 per cent during the past five years and the company is rated by Forbes as one of the top 200 small businesses in the country. At Esmor, another big private prison contractor, revenues have soared from $4.6 million in 1990 to more than $25 million in 1995....

from US: America's Private Gulag

Originally posted to edgery on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:50 PM PST.

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