The US Geological Survey recorded a minor earthquake this morning with its epicenter near Wasilla, Alaska, the probable result of Sarah Palin opening her mail box to find the latest issue of CounterPunch magazine we sent her. A few moments later she Instagrammed this startling comment…
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The Sham of Homeland Security
One of President Bush’s much-vaunted ‘accomplishments’ since the start of his reign of terror is the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. This cabinet post was created following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., and brought with it artificial ‘safeguards’ to give the citizenry the illusion of increased security. Among these new ‘safeguards’ were allegedly tightened security at airports, resulting in hours-long delays for many travelers, and the purging of the nation of illegal aliens.
A recent article in New Jersey’s The Star-Ledger brings to light the myth of Mr. Bush’s new cabinet post, and exposes on a micro-scale the waste and home-grown terrorism that ‘Homeland Security’ has produced.
For example there is one Eleuterio Mosquera, a 56-year-old mechanic who had lived in the U.S. for seventeen years, during which time he had committed no crime other than remaining in the country after being told to leave. At 5:30 on a recent morning, Mr. Mosquera was leaving his Newark home for work at the recycling plant that had employed him for seven years, unaware that the two SUVs parked across the street contained a total of seven, heavily-armed federal agents. Mr. Mosquera never made it to his car; the agents arrested him, handcuffed him and took him to jail as his 78-year-old mother, a U.S. citizen, watched in horror.
Now it is certainly admitted that Mr. Mosquera, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador in 1991 and had been ordered back to that country that same year, did not do so. But it must also be admitted that he had lived quietly, working, paying taxes and minding his own business for nearly 17 years. He purchased and renovated a house in Newark, an area in desperate need of such attention. Yet despite his innocuous, productive and totally non-threatening life, seven federal agents were required to arrest him. One has difficulty understanding this. If the government was not going to leave him alone, why not quietly arrest him? How much does it cost to send seven federal agents after such a man? And, as the the old cliché asks: ‘Can’t they find some real criminals to arrest?’
But finding real criminals is no longer the task. Previously in NJ, the goal was that 75% of all illegal aliens arrested had to have a criminal record; there certainly is some logic in pursuing real criminals whether or not they are U.S. citizens. But because they are difficult to catch, that goal has been dismissed. Last year, of all those illegal immigrants arrested, a whopping 12% had criminal records. The rest were guilty of civil offenses, usually involving immigration violations. Scott Weber of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Detention and Removal, is unabashed. Said he: "Many times the criminal fugitives are harder to locate and take more time, but it doesn’t mean we’re not looking." He further stated that those guilty of immigration (civil, not criminal) offenses need to be caught because they too have violated the law.
Many of those arrested have been in this country for many years; they are homeowners, have children who are U.S. citizens and often only come to the attention of authorities because they have applied for residency. As reported by The Star-Ledger: "Critics say a program that was designed to deport the immigration system’s worst offenders is instead catching thousands of people precisely because they’re the ones trying to legalize their status."
Among those arrested recently were Isaac Nimni, an Israeli national who only came to the attention of authorities when his wife applied to sponsor him, and Rupi Rana, a 20-year-old student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), majoring in computer programming and computer engineering, arrested along with his parents and a brother who holds a master’s degree from NJIT in computer programming.
Ironically, most of those arrested wind up at the Elizabeth, NJ Detention Center, not far from the Newark Liberty International Airport. One wonders about any relationship between the work of the ICE agents and the concept of liberty.
If federal agents are busy arresting immigrants guilty of nothing other than being in the U.S. illegally, men and women who are otherwise law-abiding, productive members of society, when other illegal aliens are, in the words of Mr. Weber, "harder to locate," what then, is the advantage? Why not devote the time that is currently spent harassing and forcibly deporting law-abiding people to finding those with criminal records? The answer, unfortunately, is obvious. In NJ during the last fiscal year which ended in September, ICE teams arrested 2,079 people, more than twice the number arrested the previous year. The fear-mongering Bush administration can point to these figures, and those from other states, to tell a frightened population that Mr. Bush’s efforts are bearing fruit; illegal aliens, who are all busy ramming jetliners into corporate office buildings, when they are not busy at work at recycling plants, raising their children, or studying in graduate school, are being rounded up like so much cattle and summarily deported back to from whence they came. And with names like Eleuterio Mosquera and Rupi Rani, they must certainly be up to no good.
Mr. Bush is busy building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, to keep out the likes of Messrs Mosquera and Rani. Yet no one is protecting the U.S. from the crimes of the Bush administration: illegal wiretapping, deprivation of freedom of speech among others, not to mention an illegal, immoral imperial war for oil.
For seven years Mr. Bush has relied on the combination of a gullible public, willing to cower in fear at the mere mention of the word ‘Islam,’ and a weak, spineless Congress without the slightest concept of the idea of ‘checks and balances.’ By finding immigrants seeking permanent residency and sending them back to uncertain and often dangerous futures he is able to foster the illusion that he is ‘protecting Americans.’ While he does so, U.S. citizens and Congress look the other way as the nation’s reputation is shattered throughout the world, as the U.S. attempts to steal Iraq’s oil and individual freedoms fade into a polluted sunset.
The list of victims of Mr. Bush is endless: nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed and tens of thousands more seriously injured. Over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died in his war, with millions more wounded. Over 3,000,000 have been displaced. Add to that the thousands of people who have lived blameless lives in the U.S. for years, lacking only the official paperwork allowing them to do so, who are now languishing in detention centers or who have been deported. And then add those who depended on them for a living and who are now bereft of their primary means of support.
This is U.S. society in the first decade of a new millennium. One hopes that a new president, to be inaugurated in January of 2009, will bring about welcome changes, but when looking at the front-running candidates, one is left with little optimism.
ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.‘