by Elaine Cassel
. . . Immigrants can be detained without being charged with any
offense for months, even years (and hundreds have been since
September 11) and, if they have hearings at all, they may be in
secret and without benefit of counsel. Their family members may
never know that they have been detained, even deported. If
countries to which INS wishes to deport them won't accept them, they
may be imprisoned forever, under current regulations, in INS
custody. . . .
America in the 21st century is an incarceration-happy nation. More
than 2 million people are incarcerated in federal and state prisons,
a 100 percent increase from 10 years ago.
As staggering as that statistic is, the INS data is even more so.
For in four years-from 1997 to 2001- the number of INS detainees
increased by 150 percent-from 8,200 to more than 20,000. . . .