Feathered Bastard

SB 1070 and Operation Streamline Slammed in Draft United Nations Report

The United Nations has posted the draft report on a review of the United States' human rights record, which recently took place in Geneva, Switzerland

Both SB 1070 and the U.S. Border Patrol's Operation Streamline are slammed in the draft, produced by a working group of the United Nations Human Rights' Council.

The report reads more like minutes of the three hour process, which took place on November 5.You can watch the review online in archived video from the UNHRC's Web site.

After giving its presentation, the U.S. delegation underwent a "dialogue" with representatives of 56 different delegations present.

Among the many issues raised was Arizona's infamous breathing-while-brown law SB 1070, and the U.S. was forced to explain itself regarding this bigoted legislation.

At one point, the draft relates that,

"The [U.S.] delegation then addressed questions regarding the Arizona immigration law. The Justice Department had challenged this law on grounds that it unconstitutionally interferes with the federal Government's authority to set and enforce immigration policy, and litigation is ongoing in which a federal judge has enjoined the law. The United States expressed its commitment to advancing comprehensive immigration reform."

Subjects raised during the review included everything from closing Gitmo and the death penalty, to torture committed under the administration of George W. Bush and the treatment of minorities.

The topic of immigration came up several times. The U.S. had to defend its treatment of undocumented aliens in its "immigration detention and removal process." Representatives made assurances about improving "immigration detention conditions," and decried "racial and ethnic profiling by local law enforcement officials," expressing the United States' commitment to ending the practice.

The blog Arizona's Politics made me aware of the fact the Vatican's representative to the UNHRC called for the end to Operation Streamline, which I wrote about in a recent cover story. OSL, as it's sometimes called, is a program wherein the federal government attempts to hit illegal border crossers with criminal penalties in addition to the process of removal.

Thanks to Arizona's Politics for sending me a link to its post, which you can see, here. The post also has a link to video of the Vatican's official observer to the U.N., Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, making his remarks. 

The Archbishop also called for the legalization of the undocumented in the U.S. 

"Over 10 million undocumented migrants live in a precarious legal situation and are exposed to a constant risk of having their human rights violated," said Tomasi. "These persons are normally integrated in the local economy but they are not legally integrated in the society."

So Tomasi urged the U.S. to begin the legislative process towards ending this human rights dilemma. Bravo, Archbishop. Couldn't have said it better myself.

This is the first, so-called "Universal Periodic Review" that the U.S. has undergone. All U.N. member states are required to submit to a review every four years. 

As I've blogged previously, both the ACLU of Arizona's executive director Alessandra Soler-Meetz and Phoenix civil rights activist Sal Reza of Puente traveled to Geneva to observe the proceedings.

I'm sure all the nativist naysayers out there will kvetch that other countries have far worse human rights records than the U.S. And they're right. But that's not the point.

The point is, we're supposed to set an example for the world on human rights, including the treatment of migrants. Unfortunately, Arizona's setting an example, just not an example fitting for a bastion of freedom and civil liberties such as the U.S.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons