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Michael Welch

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Quiet Constructions in the War on Terror: Subjecting Asylum Seekers to Unnecessary Detention

This article dwells on how asylum seekers entering the U.S. are being subjected to unnecessary detention in harsh conditions of confinement. The detention of asylum seekers suggests that certain aspects of the war on terror serve more to control immigration than to control crime, producing an array of human rights predicaments. Between September 11, 2001, and December 2003, more than 15,300 asylum seekers were detained at U.S. airports and borders. From the port of entry, asylum seekers are transported to jail, with parole contingent on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) criteria (i.e., community ties, no risk to the community, and that identity can be established) that are often ignored. Detaining asylum seekers is not an effective antiterrorist tactic. Their detention suggests that certain aspects of the war on terror serve more to control immigration than to control crime, producing an array of human rights predicaments. Detaining asylum seekers contributes to criminalization since they are stereotyped as being threats to public safety and national security. Their confinement with criminals in county jails, without the possibility of parole, is contrary to the norms and principles of international refugee law.

political asylum, refugees, Operation Liberty Shield, Blanket Detention Order of 2003, international law and treaties, immigration law, INS/ICE, September 11, torture

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 31, Nos. 1-2 (2004): 113-129