Monday, May 7, 2007

The Migrant Trap

The Migrant Trap By LESLIE RADFORD

The pre-dawn pounding at the door startles the family out of its sleep. "Police!" a voice bellows from the other side. Maybe a family member or neighbor is in trouble, maybe there's an emergency in the neighborhood. The door's unlatched and opened, and federal agents burst through. They grab the mother, handcuff her, and disappear her into the night. Agents in riot gear seal off the factory, locking doors and windows, and, pointing military rifles at the employees, sort them into two groups. One group is dragged out and dispersed to prisons a thousand miles away. Older sisters lead their younger siblings through local jails looking for a parent. A nun roams detention facilities clutching a nursing baby, trying to find the child's mother. It takes weeks and a lawsuit before lawyers and family members learn where all the workers have been taken.

The imprisoned have only two choices: struggle through a legal process they barely understand with official assurances they won't succeed and might endanger the rest of their family, or go into self-imposed exile abroad, away from their wife, husband, sons, and daughters, from their home and their community. This is not the extraordinary rendition of fingered terrorist suspects in some faraway land. This is the increasingly ordinary rendition of migrants from within the United States.

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