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February 23, 2005

Comments

That last paragraph is meant in a Swiftian sense, right?

That last paragraph is meant in a Swiftian sense, right?

I modestly propose it, yes.

I'm sad to have to say it, but's not just France. Google the namens Aamir Ageeb, Amir Mohamed Ahmed, and Marcus Omofuma (sometimes spelled Omafuma).

I modestly propose it, yes.

Not that I had any doubt, myself, Edward. I'm just getting sick of reading about how we liberals are promoting a "culture of death", never mind anyone's stances on the death penalty, antipersonnel land mines, prisoners being beaten to death in U.S. custody, etc. And some of it is coming from folks who really should know better, too.

As an American, it gives me some small comfort that it isn't just my own government that is populated with vile thugs.

Edward:
Not to deflect from the impact of your post; but what evidence do you have (I have seen none in either the French or translated accounts of the La Cecla arrest/ flight deportation incident) that the unfortunate Congolese deportee was in fact:

"simply prolonging his life until the police in his home nation get a hold of him, or he wouldn't be struggling so desperately." Or why:

"reason to believe they may be murdered upon their return" applies in this case?

This is by no means intended to excuse the abusive treatment of detainees/deportees - nor the foolish practice of arresting and charging other passengers for objecting to such abuse as heinous criminals (judging by the nominal penalties these charges carry). However, it seems that by assuming that the Congolese was in fact going to be in danger of his life upon his return (to Senegal, apparently, not the Congo) - you are "assuming facts not in evidence", Unless there is something I have missed.

I'm at a loss to see what your point is. Deportation is unpleasant? Damn straight it is, but what's the alternative for illegal immigrants or assylum seekers who's claims for assylum have been examined and rejected? Open borders? Deportation only for those who don't mind too much? At least he wasn't being deported for the express purpose of having him tortured by Syria or Egypt.

Just an aside on how desparate the immigration situation in France is. In 2000 the net migration rate is France was .66 per 1,000. In the United States in 2002 the net migration rate was 3.5 per 1,000. I guess desparation looks different on this side of the Atlantic.

JayC,

However, it seems that by assuming that the Congolese was in fact going to be in danger of his life upon his return (to Senegal, apparently, not the Congo) - you are "assuming facts not in evidence", Unless there is something I have missed.

Fair question. I'm combining stories my friend Dr. I has told me, tales of other immigrants in the press, and this man's desperation to come to that conclusion. But you're right, there's no hard evidence presented that he himself would be murdered upon deportation. It's possible he thought if he put up enough of a fight they wouldn't send him back, but consider what that would mean he was willing to go through and why.

I'm at a loss to see what your point is. Deportation is unpleasant?

You say "unpleasant"; I say "unhuman."

Nyoos, I can't speak for France, but in the UK, an asylum seeker all but has to produce documentary evidence that the government of their country actually persecuted them personally in order to get indefinite leave to remain. Such evidence can be difficult to get, especially if you leave the country out of a well-justified fear that the government will get around to persecuting you. Also, an asylum seeker is required to make their case at point of entry: many asylum seekers first goal is to get in, to a country where they will be safe, and only then make their case as an asylum seeker.

Many asylum seekers have been sent back from the UK to countries where, realistically, if they weren't safe before they're even less so now, having made an unsuccessful break for it.

I have no idea about the rights and wrongs of this specific case Edward outlines. Nor do I have a clear idea about the hoops asylum seekers are required to jump through in France. But generally speaking, I'm very unhappy about the lethal walls against asylum seeking that the EU, and specifically the UK, have put up.

It was a mordant joke, back in the 1980s when Michael Howard was Home Secretary, that had the same rules that Howard put in place been in place in the 1930s, Michael Howard's parents, seeking asylum in the UK from the Nazis, would never have got in. Sort of a what-if-you-killed-your-father joke. If anything, the rules have been made tighter since, and certainly, we treat asylum seekers with gross lack of charity: they get less money from the state than they need to stay alive on, they are legally forbidden to work, and tabloids run nasty campaigns against them if they beg for money in the streets or if they work illegally.

back in the 1980s when Michael Howard was Home Secretary

clicking preview does no good when the brain is screwed up.

Michael Howard was Home Secretary in the 1990s: 1993-97, to be precise.

I must be missing something. When I read this, the most bizarre aspect to me (by far) was the arrest of those other passengers, despite the fact that the only "crime" they had committed was asking about the propriety of the thing. Heck...that's something I hope I'd have the moral compass and/or nads to do myself.

France's immigration problem is theirs to worry about, but if the magnitude of the problem is that large, I don't see any reason why they couldn't use something other than scheduled commercial flights to accomplish it. Expecting other passengers to sit around like sheep while someone on the plane is undergoing such an ordeal is well...goofy.

On a brighter note, I loved the comments at Crooked Timber, especially the one that opened with "Jet, you witless tosser!"

The other ironic thing about Michael Howard was that his grandfather may have entered Britain illegally.

I think the best solution is to do what the INS does with some of it's deportees: charter it's own plane and fly them back. That way you have:

- No civilians on the plane.

- Better way to restrain the deportees so that they don't hurt themselves and the police do not have as much time. (There were armed guards on the INS flight I saw.)

- Assurance that the deportees do not endanger the lives of the people paying to fly.

I realize this sounds sort of harsh, but as an illegal, if you do get caught (and esp. if you're a criminal), any state has to have the right to expel you.

That should read "the police don't have to spend so much time 'restraining' them, hopefully preventing deaths/serious injuries."

I'd never thought I'd say this, but if this SOP for EU deportations, then the BICE (formerly INS) seems to be tamer by comparison, at least regarding the following two cases in point:

August 2002 I was flying to Brazil and there were men being deported on the flight with me. The BICE agents stayed with them the entire time of course, made sure they got on the plane and gave the flight attendants some sort of documentation on these men. When we had to return to the gate and change to a different plane after the first one couldn't get pressurized, the BICE agents were still there and I assume that they stay until the plane actually leaves.

December 2002 on my way to Brazil again two men were being deported. The BICE agents stayed with them as well (one even asked the currency exchange guy if they exchenged Brazilian currency and assisted one of the deportees in exchanging currency) and as in the other case, no one was forcibly restrained or otherwise treated harshly. In fact these individuals returned unaccompanied.

I don't know if this is representative, but I thought I'd mention it.

There may not be any easy answers about how to conduct deportations of resisting immigrants or how to handle asylum seekers and illegal immigrants in general. There's a very easy answer about whether to charge the passengers who complained with a crime punishable with up to five years in prison: don't f*cking do it.

Randy, I have to assume that the deportees in question did not expect to be tortured and/or murdered when they landed in Brazil. If the Congolese man in question had gone quietly, I'm sure the EU enforcement officers would have seemed tame as well.

Not to disagree with Randy Paul while he is being nice to the US, but my guess (please everyone, guess) is that even this French case isn't typical and the ones you witnessed were probably someone who wasn't resisting as strenuously as in the French case. I honestly don't know what you do with someone who is going to resist like that.

Sebastian: I honestly don't know what you do with someone who is going to resist like that.

I would guess the answer is: Don't deport asylum seekers back to their home country if they're going to be killed when they get there.

And if you do, don't be amazed that they spend the entire trip screaming and struggling.

I agree with elvez's list for those who have been rejected for asylum, but not all deportees are as desperate as that (some simply overstayed their Visas), so further clarifications might be handy.

So much of what's Kafka-esque about this is the absurd mixing of passengers. The folks who are just travelling as they normally would being subjected to the heartbreaking pleas of the deportees who are having their entire world turned upside down, and the state's insane suggestion that everyone just go about their business as if this were normal.

this French case isn't typical

Actually, more and more, regular passengers are stepping in and asking WTF?

Many deportations have been prevented when other passengers have refused to board, in support of the Sans Papiers. On 1 April at Roissy airport, 26 supporters and two journalists were arrested; the next day nine passengers on a flight to Mali were arrested for opposing the deportation of Sans Papiers. Deportations have become increasingly violent: Sans Papiers are tied up, gagged and often drugged.


This story reminds me of a summer afternoon, in 1988. I was sitting in an Indian restaurant in Phoenix, when a big fat man in a cheap suit entered the restaurant. Surprisingly, the first thing he did was to grab a bearded man who was serving water to the customers, yell at him, shove him into a corner, and only then flash a badge. Fatso was apparently making an arrest. The poor immigrant was clearly in deep trouble. The immigrant was hauled away, and we were left, waterless and angry, to carefully consider the merits and difficulties of U.S. immigration policy.

Marc-

A bearded waiter? You sure Fatso wasn't with the Health Dept.?

Not to disagree with Randy Paul while he is being nice to the US

I'm always nice to the US, Sebastian. I come from a family with a long history of government service in the Defense Department, Commerce Department, GSA, State Department and a few other branches that I'm probably leaving out. I worked summers in high school for the US Army and worked for a couple of defense contractors after college. Never had any problems there, not even with the wet-behind-the-ears second lieutenant who was my boss one summer. I still reserve the right to criticize the present leadership and I don't believe that makes me love my country any less.

Chuchundra,

The Argentinean man in question probably wasn't facing torture or execution either, but he died in custody and given the condition of Argentina's economy at the time, I would imagine his illegal status was based on economic reasons.

Katherine,

Gee if France were on better terms they could probably borrow the Gulfstream that's been used for the extraordinary renditions. /snark>

The whole situation remnds me of the Titantic. Our collective ship is sinking, altough the outlook for our particular life raft looks ok for now. But, boy, if any of those drownding people climb on, let's whack them with an oar!

It should be noted that France has a particular problem for two reasons. One, because the expansive notion of citizenship that was adopted under the Convention of 1792, anyone freeman from a possession of France was a French citizenship, which coupled with the abolition of slavery, cast a wide net. While Napoleon reinstituted slavery, Napoleonic code is undergirded by the notion of equal rights for all citizens, with a citizen defined as someone within the jurisdiction of the French government. While the Declaration of Independence owes much to the universalist ideals that were bubbling around then, there was (and remains) a tension, as can be seen by this letter from Thomas Paine concerning the question of whether he was a French citizen or and American one. (of course, Paine, after being elected to the Assembly, ended up on the wrong side of the Revolution for arguing for clemency for Louis and it was Monroe who saved Paine's neck from the guillotine by claiming Paine as an American citizen)

The second is that France has always had a vigorous notion of asylum, stemming from the idea that the country was a haven for those who argued that the ideals of the French revolution were universal. While much of that has been rolled back by bureaucratic regimes set up in from the mid 70's, France still has a legal foundation of asylum that is more expansive than any other country (one could argue that the US has an equally expansive notion of immigration, but the idea is based on greater opportunities at home rather than support of US ideals abroad)

Here's a paper about refugees and asylum policy in France. The most interesting point is the difference between constitutional asylum (which IIUC derives from French law) and conventional asylum (which derives from the Geneva conventions), as well as a third category, territorial asylum.

LJ,

Thanks for the exposition. I remember seeing demonstrations of "sans-papiers" in the streets of Paris, thinking to myself that if I were an illegal alien, I'd be a bit nervous to run around so openly.

The "bureaucratic regimes of the 70s" might be understating it, though. Pasqua's laws made carrying immigration papers mandatory at all times. As an exchange student in 1997, I was officially warned to keep a photocopy of my passport on me, and privately told that, since I'm white, I didn't have to worry about it.

That's a good point. I believe mandatory possession of documents was required even in the 80's and with good reason. When I was living in France, the bombings of the Galleries Lafayette and Printemps occurred (I remember the bombings, but had to google to find out who was responsible, and it says that Armenian separatists were responsible) I took my girlfriend to catch her flight at Charles De Gaulle and I had a rucksack that I set down on the ground and walked her to the checkout gate 10 or 20 m away. I turned around and found my bag surrounded by RER police. I came sheepishly back and got a scorching lecture from the guy in charge. After 15 minutes of that (and you haven't experienced a dressing down until it is done in French by someone who knows they have authority over you) he asked for my papers. I think I would have gotten another hour of this if he hadn't noticed that I was teaching at the lycee where his daughter was in the class prepas. Thank god I had my papers and thank god for it being a small world.

It's also the case that here in Japan, it is illegal to not have your documentation on you. I wonder if in this, the US and UK are the outliers. I certainly think that a national id card is unavoidable, even it becomes a localized one that is tied into a computer network.

Lily - I'm not saying that we should be hitting the people in the water with paddles, but the law says, some people here legally and some not. If you'd like to change the law to having open borders, be my guest. Good luck with convincing anyone to do that.

There's a huge difference, I think, between legitimate asylum seekers and economic immigrants. I can imagine the guy being just as upset if he had worked for 10 years to build a family/home/business just to be expelled.

It's also the case that here in Japan, it is illegal to not have your documentation on you.

When I hear about such laws, in my head I inevitably hear the phrase "Your papers, please." Needless to say, this doesn't warm me to the idea.

There's a huge difference, I think, between legitimate asylum seekers and economic immigrants.

Well, yes and no. If I found myself in a position where I had to work illegally to make sure my kids could get ahead, I don't think I would hesitate. At some point, freedom becomes economic.

This doesn't mean I support open borders, but I do think that as long as there are vast inequities between the haves and the have-nots, we can't cast the problem as simply a question of borders but look to wider questions of social justice.

"You say "unpleasant"; I say "unhuman.""

Right.... so what you're saying is that deportation is depraved and it should never be done? What's your answer? Open borders? Closed borders but anyone who can con or trick their way through them can stay? Let's hear you spell it out.

Someone above alluded to lifeboats. It may not be pretty but if there are 20 people in a 15 man lifeboat and 200 in the water all about, the lucky 20 will only stay that way for as long as they can keep the other 200 out of the boat. Unpleasant, but true. Often those who survive extreme situations are those who are ruthless. There are countless examples including from the WW2 concentration camps.

But anyway, the lifeboat is a poor metafore because I believe it charges the immigration debate emotionally and paints it as a matter of immediate survival. There are plenty of issues surrounding imigration but the nations of western Europe are not in mortal danger from immigration. Possibly the opposite is true.

Right.... so what you're saying is that deportation is depraved and it should never be done? What's your answer? Open borders? Closed borders but anyone who can con or trick their way through them can stay? Let's hear you spell it out.

Hmmm, if everyone has to lay out a complete plan to deal with something before they blog about it, things are going to get mighty sparse.

But to your point, in some ways, Western European countries, because of their higher level of social support for those who are granted refugee status, are in 'danger', though we could argue if this is due to demogogues or actual budget pressures. (this is one reason why Bosnia/Kosovo was dealt with a lot more alacrity than Rwanda) As long as there is a marked difference in economic opportunity and the ability to travel (something which is becoming more and more accessible), no plan is going to work.

I wasn't suggesting that the developed nations are in danger from immigration. I was suggesting that we are not and that we should let more people on to our lifeboats. But more to the point we need to be helping make the rest of the world more liveable for its inhabitants so they don't have to come here. Of course that is very difficult, I know.

"But more to the point we need to be helping make the rest of the world more liveable for its inhabitants "

Couldn't agree more. Didn't mean to jump on your lifeboat metephore. I guess the original post just got me a little irritated because the "why can't we all just be nice" approach to real public policy questions like imigration leaves many questions unanswered. The other thing that gets me a little irritated is the suspicion that although a lot of people might be appalled to have to sit beside a deportation on their vacation flight they're not actually against deportation per say. I mean, if one agrees that some people must be deported against their will then what is wrong with the scene described other than we were forced to witness it?

I guess the original post just got me a little irritated because the "why can't we all just be nice" approach to real public policy questions like imigration leaves many questions unanswered. The other thing that gets me a little irritated is the suspicion that although a lot of people might be appalled to have to sit beside a deportation on their vacation flight they're not actually against deportation per say.

Your second point is a good and valid one, but for me it's undermined by your first, which I keep reading as minimizing the human story here.

Or are you saying Deportation represents an ugly reality that people should either be willing to have thrust in their face (or against the back of their airplane seat) or be willing to campaign actively against?

Because if that's what you're saying, we may have more in common than is apparent at this point.

It's an interesting question whether they were doing it from a conviction that it was wrong or out of a 'gee, we were just trying to have a nice vacation' sense. Probably impossible to tell, but the fact that it is getting publicized suggests that it was the former, coupled with the fact that they were an Italian anthropologist and a Libération journalist (both professions more likely to be left rather than right)

The deeper question is what should be done? It briefly flashed in my mind that the way to put the greatest pressure would be to boycott the airline, but the reaction of government might simply be to find a company that deals with cargo rather than with passengers.

Perhaps the Congolese is simply a savvy poseur who saw some liberals on the plane and reacted the way he did because he knew that he could get someone to intervene. But it is important to realize is that by behaving the way they did, the police weakened rather than strengthened their authority. People demanding that others be treated with dignity may be gamed by those unscrupulous in the short term, but in the long term, it strengthens rather than weakens us, I think.

Perhaps the Congolese is simply a savvy poseur who saw some liberals on the plane and reacted the way he did because he knew that he could get someone to intervene.

That had occurred to me. But after he had been physically struck, one would assume, he'd reconsider that approach.

What's to be done. That's the core of Nyoos' irritation, that the post describes a problem but doesn't offer a solution (just when that became a requirement for discussion is a mystery to me, but...).

First of all, what's the real problem here? That people are being deported or that the way it's being done is inconsistent with our view of Western values?

I have no problem with people being deported. I have friends who have been deported for overstaying their VISAs and, well, that's the risk they took. But you really have to look at deportees in two categories: asylum seekers and others. You have to break the asylum seekers down into two categories as well: those from nations where it's safe to assume they'll not be abused upon returning and those it's not safe to assume that.

The asylum seekers in the latter group deserve extra special consideration, IMO. Otherwise, we're full of s*&t when it comes to our stand on human rights.

Senegal, where the Congolese was being deported to, has a history of torturing its citizens. Maybe the deportee was malingering, but given the fact that folks are tortured in Senegal, I personally wouldn't be willing to take that chance. If he couldn't be deported to a country with a good human rights record, a more earnest attempt should have been made to accept him in France.

I feel about the asylum policy in my country more or less the way Jesurgislac described the policy in hers. But half my family emigrated to Australia in the 1960's, 1970's, as economic immigrants, so I may be biased.

Edward:
But you really have to look at deportees in two categories: asylum seekers and others. You have to break the asylum seekers down into two categories as well: those from nations where it's safe to assume they'll not be abused upon returning and those it's not safe to assume that.

The asylum seekers in the latter group deserve extra special consideration, IMO. Otherwise, we're full of s*&t when it comes to our stand on human rights.

Trouble is that *someone* has to define wether a country is safe or not, and that definition can be stretched considerably I have noticed. Is Afghanistan a safe country? Can we deport Kurds to Turkey? We have a deal where Tsjetsjens are deported back --- to Russia... since those area's are declared 'safe'.

Senegal seems decidedly less safe than Russia or Turkey to me though dutchmarbel, although I see your point.

Perhaps the UN could draw up a list. The countries on it might be embarassed enough to treat returning citizens less harshly. (Yes, I realize that's 90% wishful thinking, but it all adds up, public pressure).

Senegal seems decidedly less safe than Russia or Turkey to me though dutchmarbel, although I see your point.

We had questions in parlement about it, since some deportees disappeared after arrival. Kurds from Turkey who seek asylum are less safe that Turks (or Kurds) who seek jobs. But I think that we more or less agree.

I have problem finding a good solution too. On one hand I feel that we are sooooo rich, that we should be able to provide people in need with shelter and a new start etc. On the other hand: we do not have a lot of room since we are quite a small country. And Europe should eventually find a solution that fits us all, with the open borders.

In an effort to satisfy Sebastian's preconceptions of me, one of the most consistently unjust asylum issues involvs app;icants from Haiti and Cuba entering the US. Because of the Cuban Adjustment Act, adult Cubans are almost automatically granted entry when they make land in the US, regardless of the circumstances of their departure, while Haitians are treated among the worst despite often legitimate claims of repression and human rights abuses in Haiti regardless of who has been in charge in Haiti. The results have been horrific in some cases and in others the basis for the decisions borders on the perverse.

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