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LETTERS: A firsthand view of state's immigration policies not very pretty

Recently, several members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett visited Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin to see firsthand the impact of Georgia's and Gwinnett County's immigration policies. The situation we observed was heartbreaking.

Women and children, many from Gwinnett, sit in a packed reception area waiting to visit their husbands and fathers. For many, this will be the first time they see their loved ones since they were detained at a police checkpoint for not having a driver's license.

Families are allowed one one-hour visit each week. Many can visit rarely, if at all, because Lumpkin is hours from their homes. The visits are non-contact: women and children take turns talking to their loved ones through phones.

Several women have been told that their husbands are about to be deported. They do not expect to see them again. They are unwilling to take their children, who are U.S. citizens, to countries wracked by political and drug-related violence and poverty — countries where they no longer have a home. Georgia's immigration policies force them to choose between intact families and their children's future.

Immigration is complex, but any policy that systematically tears families apart in our name is morally bankrupt and counterproductive.

Rev.Jan Taddeo, Grayson

Steve Babb, Lawrenceville

Janet Causey, Snellville

Rene Gonzalez, Duluth

Nancy Jacobsen, Doraville

Bert Schuster, Buford

Patricia Spears, Buford

JoAnn Weiss, Lawrenceville

Comments

snellvillemike 2 years, 1 month ago

What is immoral, and bankrupt is the idea that someone can come here to the USA and not follow the immigration laws that are on the books and then to place blame upon the immigration policies of the USA. If one comes here illegally and does not follow the laws of the land, then they are responsible for their actions.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

Agreed. One million immigrants a year enter this country legally. Those making the decision to enter illegally bear the responsibility of the effect of their action on their family.

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kevin 2 years, 1 month ago

This church is catering to the illegals to become members. The U.S. is the only country when it's President allows illegals to come in and we do not enforce the Federal laws. This is only one reason why Obama and his appointed idiots must go in Nov. Even the people like at this church don't acknowledge the fact we are a country of law and if you don't care about that fact, then leave and try to cross over in another country to live. See how they accept you! When your own President takes an oath to uphold the laws in this country and he refuses to do it, what is this place coming to? Another reason to vote him out. We don't what liars and people who swear on the Bible and also lie. What can this Rev. respond to that remark?

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notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

The root problem is the misapplication of the 14th Amendment. This story is just another of their strategies to solicit sympathy for their cause. Their cause is open borders and unlimited immigration.

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Susan 2 years, 1 month ago

How is it these illegal immigrants know all about applying for food stamps and free lunch and breakfast for their kids? They know where to go for free medical care and in which hospitals they can have their babies for free. Why is it they just don't seem to know anything about the consequences if they are caught being here illegally? And it seems if someone is driving without a license, he would be driving extremely carefully so there would be no reason a cop would stop him. Or do they not understand speed limits either?

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Braveshopr 2 years, 1 month ago

Question 3: Why do they steadfastly refuse to learn English? Could it be more out of disrespect to the US than mere laziness? While other cultures struggle but eventually learn English after less than a year, Spanish is the language heard in a cacophony of voices in most public places.

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

My experience of must unauthorized immigrants is that they do their best to learn English. I do not see it as disrespect but as a sign of their fear in admitting that they do not speak English, and due to fear, they are unable to participate in the limited classes available from churches to learn English. Some other cultures who come to America are provided resources to learn English or have learned English in their home country. In their home country they may have had the advantage of education beyond elementary schooling. It is a much more complex issue than laziness and disrespect. For single individuals, I might agree with the description, I cannot agree with the whole group being categorized with this reason for not learning the language.

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

Women and children, many from Gwinnett, sit in a packed reception area waiting to visit their husbands and fathers. For many, this will be the first time they see their loved ones

"since they were detained at a police checkpoint for NOT having a driver's license."

SO WHY are they DRIVING?

I wonder if this church has taken a collection or offered any physical support to families JUST like the one below. There is NO shortage I’m sure there is someone right around the corner in their neighborhood.

http://www.thedustininmansociety.org/info/who_was_dustin_inman.html

Dustin Inman was one of the un-counted thousands of Americans who have needlessly lost their lives because government in America refuses to secure American borders or enforce American immigration and employment laws.

Dustin Inman was a sixteen-year-old American boy killed by an illegal alien in a senseless traffic collision on Father's Day weekend in the year 2000. He was on his way to a weekend of fishing in the North Georgia mountains with his parents.

Despite being in the United States illegally, the driver of the car that killed Dustin, Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez, was able to obtain a valid North Carolina driver's license using his Mexican birth certificate and a Mexican Matricula Consular ID card. On June 16, 2000, a speeding vehicle driven by Harrell-Gonzalez hurtled into the rear of the Inman family's car while it was stopped at a red light in Ellijay, Georgia - killing Dustin and knocking unconscious Kathy and Billy Inman - Dustin's parents.

When she regained consciousness after five weeks in a coma, Kathy learned of the death of her son and that because of spinal injuries received in the wreck that killed him, she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Because of their injuries in the wreck, Kathy and Billy were not able to attend their only son's funeral.

But what if YOU survive and recover from your injuries?

What the original letter doesn't acknowledge is that there is NO insurance coverage in force either, so what happens if YOU become involved with one of these operators?

YOU get to deal with your OWN insurance company trying to piece things together after the fact. YOU get to deal with the surcharge costs associated with a claim against YOUR own “uninsured” policy even if COMPLETELY innocent with ZERO fault.

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

I have been in reflection on this story since it was posted. The only thing I can say is that I am so sorry for the loss that Kathy and Billy experienced. My thoughts and prayers are with Kathy and Billy that they will be able to survive this horrible loss; I pray that they will find peace and love in this world. I cannot say that they will experience justice in this specific example.

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Mack711 2 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, we should not have any fellings for lawbreakers that think that they are above the law. Next they may want to have us think that rapist and murders should be released. Had they entered the country legally then they would not be in this mess. As for the ones who must travel hours and only get to see them for one our hour, try seeing them in Mexico. You only get one hour a MONTH! It is time for us to stop this and let them know that they have broken OUR laws and now they must pay the penalty for their actions. Do something like this in Mexico or some other country and see what happens. Watch Lock Up Abroad, National Geographics Channel, and see how this is done outside the USA. Sorry but do not feel bad for them.

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kevin 2 years, 1 month ago

Like the title of this story, "it's not too pretty." No it isn't pretty for all legal citizens. Kick them out and make them go through the legal process. To do this, you must get rid of Obama and Eric Holder and start over and enforce our laws while we work to change them by making it easier and "cheaper" for these people to come here the right way. The hundreds of millions of people that did come here legally have rec'd a slap in the face by our government and the stupid idiots keep electing them over and over, hoping for a change. Ha.

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kevin 2 years, 1 month ago

Have any of you been to the local social security office? If you have, you would feel like you were sitting in Europe, Asia, Middle East, or Latin America, not in the U.S. We are being totally overrun by foreigners, and with this comes their way of life, not the American way of life. Our government, via "human rights" laws, are causing our American culture to be gone forever. The American people here just stand up and take it because they want to be "politically" correct instead of making them respect our country's culture. They are the ones that came here. This is going to haunt us for a long time because eventually you will be seeing their "customs" unfold in our streets. (riots, government takeovers, etc). Notice how large groups congregate in the same areas of the county? The next civil war won't be between Americans.

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

My faith informs my actions. I believe that each person is entitled to be treated with worth and dignity and each person must be valued as an individual. The way we are treating these families is not humane and does not offer dignity.

These men, in the case of the Stewart Detention facility, and men and women in other detention facilities, are not being treated as if their lives mattered. Whatever political and economic realities we each impart to the current immigration situation, we stil owe each human being our love and compassion in the face of their difficulty. This is not happening currently in immigrant detention in our state. We are treating all unauthorized immigrants as felony criminals. Even a criminal who commits a felony crime is due his rights. I believe these men at Stewart deserve their rights as human beings. I do not like that Georgia and America are becoming known for our violations of human rights through our imprisionment without contact and legal assistance. Love is the answer this is what my faith tells me. I will act accordingly so I respond in faith and hope to this opinion piece.

(Disclosure - I am also a member of this UU church; although I was not lucky enough to be present and offer my direct love and support to these families.)

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

They are treated justly for willfully VIOLATING laws, why is this so hard to acknowledge?

They made choices. I notice that those who continuously claim that this somehow mistreatment just blow right by this simple fact as if ignoring the total reality somehow changes it.

You may worship as you please, you may protest and in so doing are subject to the results of those protests.

Why are those of you so willing to support those who WILLFULLY choose to disregard laws related to operation of motor vehicles and yet at the same time, NOT willing to offer compassion to those who by no fault of their own, have been FORCED by this clear disobedience to live with LIFE ALTERING consequences because of these actions?

Many, by no choice of their own, won't see their family members on this earth again and perhaps would LOVE to be able to trade that situation for a monthly visitation that seems so traumatic to these authors.

I propose your “passion and love” may be more limited than you are willing to acknowledge...

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

My "compassion and love" are not limited; I hear in all these words from all the responders pain, fear, and anger. I think I am "right", and you feel you are "right".

My 'passion" is for social justice in the world that is true. My response was not intended to address the massive and complex issues involved in immigration in the United States.

I do not argue whether a law has been broken or not; this is too complex an issue for a paragraph response. I do not argue about the choices that were made by these unauthorized workers; again the issue is far too complex for one liners. I argue for treating people with fairness and dignity because they are human beings deserving of respect. I think we should be our best when we have power and control over other people's lives as we do when we sit in judgement. For me, being my best, is to act from love.

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

It’s NOT acting from LOVE or compassion to encourage breaking the law. You don’t acknowledge the continuing DAMAGE your position inflicts on others, including the very ones you claim to assist…

This is the issue; the only party that has COMPLETE control of this situation is the individual that has CHOSEN to be undocumented within our borders.

Until they personally CHOOSE to correct that PERSONAL choice, there are and should be consequences.

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

I do not feel that I have encouraged breaking the law; therefore, I do not feel that I have damaged others. I only encourage treating people with dignity in our prison system.

Again I will not begin to argue with the rest of your choice argument as it distracts from the human rights violations occurring within our state.

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mhsavery 2 years, 1 month ago

Does might make right? Hundreds of years ago, white men arrived on the shores of America with their superior weapons and settled here to exploit the resources and riches they found. They felt they had the right to force the native Americans from their land, and "imprison" them on reservations. Many years later, white men felt they had the right to forcefully remove Africans from their native land, and bring them to America to work for them as slaves. White men and women resisted giving these African Americans their freedom and equal rights for many years because they thought it would endanger their own economic and social well-being. Today, many of the men and women who are in power in our country, who are mostly white, feel threatened by undocumented immigrants who have been enticed to enter our country to improve their lives. Rather than dealing with this situation by using humane rational thinking and problem solving, they want to treat these immigrants with disrespect and disregard. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn? A White Woman Who Believes in Respecting the Dignity and Worth of Every Person

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

The “undocumented” are not a race. They are made up of people that have made a conscious individual CHOICE, so all the elegant parallels you attempt to make above don’t apply.

They are in a state of being that they themselves have COMPLETE INDIVIDUAL control over and can correct at any time they so CHOOSE - without the input of or dependence on the action of ANYONE else.

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mhsavery 2 years, 1 month ago

R - disrespect and mistreatment of any group of people - whether they are a "race" or not, is wrong, in my opinion. American Indians were not a "race", but white men certainly mistreated them. I believe all the parallels I made do apply to this situation. When the "shoe fits", we must "wear them", even if it makes us uncomfortable acknowledging current wrongs by examining past behavior. White does not make right anymore than might makes right.

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

Actually, Native Americans are indeed a race or culture of people.

Again, I will respectfully but firmly reply your comments do not apply in the case of the undocumented that have COMPLETE, personal control of their own fate, just like other members of society that CHOOSE to break laws, they know if they get caught - there is a price to be paid.

However we'll let other readers discern for themselves.

IF you personally have some baggage about race to address feel free, but locking people up for CHOOSING to break laws occurs all the time and these particular regulations have been around for over 100 years now.

You may feel certain laws should be changed, work to that end, but making claims of inhuman, disrespectful treatment on cases like this as the basis for your position really doesn't hold up after inspection.

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

There is always a price to be paid for choices. The problem is the price we are putting in place, here in Georgia, is disrespectful to human rights.

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

NO its NOT, it is NOT a human right to commit crimes...

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babsstahnke 2 years, 1 month ago

I think my response was unclear. I was stating that the price, we in Georgia, are placing on people who commit "crime" is a violation of human rights. We are placing people in a place without due process, without contact with family and legal advice, without communication. Suffering that Georgians are putting into place because we don't speak out. My compassion and love goes to all who are suffering. I am sorry that you have misinterpreted my words to even suggest that I feel it is a human right to commit crimes. I am my "brothers keeper" not his judge. We must take care with all souls who are in a lesser place of power than we hold. "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in"...may I continue in the following: I was afraid and you gave me courage; I felt hate and you gave me love; I was alone and you gave me company; I was helpless and you supported me. These ending words are how I take my instruction to help the 'least' of my brethren. By 'least', I mean powerless. No matter the crime, we must treat people as human beings.

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notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

mhsavery, the indians chose to allow settlements to be built on their continent by people intent on domination. How well did that work out for them ? If there is a lesson to be learned it is this - SEAL THE BORDER. No amnesty for law breakers. No charity to people intent on taking advantage of our goodwill.

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