Archive for January 24th, 2008
The country is changing:
Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he’s never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack’s claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.
On Thursday, Warziniack was told he would be released. Immigration authorities were finally able to verify his citizenship.
“The immigration agents told me they never make mistakes,” Warziniack said in a phone interview from jail. “All I know is that somebody dropped the ball.”
The story of how immigration officials decided that a small-town drifter with a Southern accent was an illegal Russian immigrant illustrates how the federal government mistakenly detains and sometimes deports American citizens.
U.S. citizens who are mistakenly jailed by immigration authorities can get caught up in a nightmarish bureaucratic tangle in which they’re simply not believed.
An unpublished study by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization, in 2006 identified 125 people in immigration detention centers across the nation who immigration lawyers believed had valid U.S. citizenship claims.
Vera initially focused on six facilities where most of the cases surfaced. The organization later broadened its analysis to 12 sites and plans to track the outcome of all cases involving citizens.
Nina Siulc, the lead researcher, said she thinks that many more American citizens probably are being erroneously detained or deported every year because her assessment looked at only a small number of those in custody. Each year, about 280,000 people are held on immigration violations at 15 federal detention centers and more than 400 state and local contract facilities nationwide.
Unlike suspects charged in criminal courts, detainees accused of immigration violations don’t have a right to an attorney, and three-quarters of them represent themselves. Less affluent or resourceful U.S. citizens who are detained must try to maneuver on their own through a complicated system.
For tonight’s dinner, for example. Try CookThink. It’s pretty cool.
For example, I clicked chicken, mushrooms, peppers, olive oil, braise, Tuscan, and it suggested beef kabobs. (It’s beta.) Still, once it’s rolling…
Today it is cold, with a more or less constant rain. Dark, dreary, winter. In fact, I’m making a big pot of miso soup for lunch (and dinner): the kombu and dried shiitakes are simmering now.
And when I was at the therapists I noticed something. I’ve lived in New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, Maryland—all those places had something that was strikingly absent at the therapists office: coat racks. I realized that people in Monterey very seldom wear coats or jackets—and in fact I was the only one there with a jacket.