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US criticised over immigrant rights.

3/26/2009 1:56:26 AM

Amnesty International has said tens of thousands of people are being held in US immigration jails without receiving a hearing to determine whether their detentions are warranted.

About 30,000 immigrants are held on an average day, the rights group said in a report released on Wednesday, triple the number in custody a decade ago.

"America should be outraged by the scale of human rights abuses occurring within its own borders," said Larry Cox, director of Amnesty International USA.

"The United States has long been a country of immigrants, and whether they have been here five years or five generations, their human rights are to be respected."

Amnesty said more than 300,000 people are detained by US immigration officials each year, including asylum seekers, torture survivors, victims of human trafficking, legal permanent residents and the parents of US citizens.

"The use of detention as a tool to combat unauthorised migration falls short of international human rights law," the report said.

Representation difficult

The US Department of Homeland Security has the power to detain people at the border or during raids if it suspects them of an immigration violation.

People detained at the border are not entitled to a review of their detention by an immigration judge, Amnesty said.

Those apprehended inside the US have the right to appear before a judge, but the wait can be long.

The report also said that it is so difficult for most detainees to get legal representation that many ask to be deported from the US even if they believe they are entitled to stay.

The Amnesty report said US citizens were also incorrectly subjected to detention with no right to a hearing before a judge and spent months or years behind bars before proving they could not be deported.

According to the report, there were about 12 million illegal immigrants living in the US as of January 2007.

The top five countries of origin were Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Philippines and China.

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Publication:Aljazeera.net
Date:Mar 26, 2009
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