It can be dicey after 9/11 for most people, but for immigrants, even completely legal ones, the odds of trouble are higher. The total power the authorities have - especially over Latinos - would give Lou Dobbs a dangerous case of priapism. One simple story:
The son of a decorated Vietnam veteran, Hector Veloz is a U.S. citizen, but in 2007 immigration officials mistook him for an illegal immigrant and locked him in an Arizona prison for 13 months. Veloz had to prove his citizenship from behind bars. An aunt helped him track down his father's birth certificate and his own, his parents' marriage certificate, his father's school, military and Social Security records. After nine months, a judge determined that he was a citizen, but immigration authorities appealed the decision. He was detained for five more months before he found legal help and a judge ordered his case dropped.
Compare this with the plight of Skip Gates and a little perspective emerges. Immigrants or immigrant suspects are at the mercy of anyone with a badge and a gun in America. If immigrants or legal natural-born citizens with the wrong skin color have no money and can't afford a lawyer, they are no match for a bureaucracy like Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And there is no due process:
In immigration detention it falls to the detainees to prove their citizenship. But detainees don't have the constitutional protections, such as the right to legal counsel, that would help them prove their case.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.