October 4, 2009

Another example of the dehumanization of "criminal deportees" in the media

In a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, “Criminal deportees often fly unescorted,” Susan Carroll tells readers:

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials routinely put illegal immigrants unescorted on commercial flights for deportation, including some who are sex offenders or have other criminal records, according to documents and field agent accounts.

The practice has prompted complaints from a key U.S. senator and ICE union leaders, who contend that putting illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes on commercial airlines unescorted poses a severe public safety risk.”

This article is presented as telling Americans how ICE is putting them in danger by not paying sufficient attention to public safety. However, in doing so, it also puts forth some falsehoods and fails to mention important information.

First of all, it is not accurate to refer to all people deported on criminal grounds as “illegal immigrants.” Many people deported on criminal grounds were legal permanent residents of the United States, and never were in the US illegally. As such, they are not “illegal immigrants.”

Secondly, people who are deported on criminal grounds have been tried in US courts, have been convicted, have served their sentences, and have spent additional time in ICE detention. Having completed their sentences, they have paid their debt to society. As non-citizens, they are given out the additional punishment of being detained in ICE detention centers, often for several months, and then being sent back to their countries of origin. The headline “Criminal deportees often fly unescorted” is akin to the headline: “Ex-convicts fly unescorted.”

Would the Houston Chronicle suggest that people released from prison should not be allowed to board planes? The author of this article should at least have pointed out the fact that these are ex-convicts, people who have served their sentences. Susan Carroll also should have clarified that not all deportees are illegal immigrants. That would be responsible journalism.

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