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Sunday, July 20, 2008

In Rhode Island, Secrecy Plagues Immigration Detentions

Since the middle of last month, at least 84 suspected illegal immigrants have been arrested throughout Rhode Island, including two highly publicized mass arrests — one at state courthouses last week.

The arrests raise many questions.

Has the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted Rhode Island for a crackdown on illegal immigration? Exactly how many people have been arrested so far this year? Where are they being detained? And, are these stepped-up raids driven by Governor Carcieri’s executive order on illegal immigration?

Unlike other law enforcement agencies that are compelled to release such information, ICE often operates in secret, say lawyers, advocates for freedom of the press and civil libertarians.

Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the Rhode Island raids represent “the same story” as ACLU has experienced in past dealings with ICE.

“Many detainees end up in an impenetrable rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland,” said Brown. “They are often impossible to find, ICE is often unable to tell family members where they are held — and then, when you finally find them, a chess game begins, where these detainees get transferred to distant places across the country.”

More here.

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