- Paperback: 428 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (October 3, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520246691
- ISBN-13: 978-0520246690
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons Paperback – October 3, 2005
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From The New Yorker
Long before Abu Ghraib, and even before September 11th, detainees in America's immigration prisons were being stripped, beaten, and sexually abused. Dow has spent years interviewing inmates, guards, and officials, and he gives a jarring account of a dangerously arbitrary system. Alien inmates—from political refugees who present themselves at airports to permanent residents convicted of misdemeanors—can be locked up for years, in harsh conditions, with no real recourse. Dow argues that the practices of the I.N.S. (which was folded into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003) laid the groundwork for the indefinite detentions and the muting of civil liberties after September 11th. By "blurring the distinction between alien, criminal, and terrorist," detention takes on its own brutal logic. After a Somali man is left to bake in the sun in a sealed car to discourage others from applying for asylum, an immigration official explains, "I'm not trying to prosecute them. I just want them to quit coming here."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
""American Gulag stands in the best tradition of muckraking journalism. . . . Dow traveled from Bakersfield to Houston to Brooklyn to hear the stories of detainees and concerned BICE employees. He points to our government's failure to practice its most basic values, such as the presumption of innocence, the right of habeas corpus and the right to decent treatment. . . . Dow shows us that what we are discovering to our horror and shame in Iraq, our government has built right here at home."--"San Diego Union-tribune"
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Some are criminals who deserve to be incarcerated, while others are caught up in minor disagreements over the length of a tourist visa. A group of Israeli young people who were arrested while they sold toys at a local mall, all of whom were in the US legally, and claimed they were told by their employer that they had work visas. The young women in the group were interrogated while in the custody of the INS for approximately three weeks, by law enforcement officials who demanded to know what mosques these Jewish girls visited while they were in Toledo.
The situation is far more dire when the detainees aren't highly educated, don't speak or read English, or are recent-enough arrivals to America that they believe every interrogation by police will end with them being executed. Cultural mannerisms and faith-based requests are not well-understood, especially by the guards who work in local and privately-run jails and prisons, and this leads to a great deal of conflict, including physical and verbal abuse of detainees.
Some people won't believe that the author is reporting the truth. However, much of what Mark Dow writes has been corroborated by other researchers, especially about the inherent dangers of a privately run, for-profit prison system.