Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Jose Ernesto Medellin executed

Proving that in the United States being part of a vulnerable population trumps basic rights. Illegal immigrants are increasingly being formally denied access to things like medical care at emergency rooms that are thought to be general rights, and more and more extreme laws are proposed each day. Illegal immigrants are in legal limbo, and are at the bottom of the food chain in many places because their status gives law enforcement an amount of power over them that surpasses that visited on blacks. There's an NAACP, but no comparable organization as prominent defending the rights of illegal immigrants.

But, just because someone is illegal or undocumented doesn't mean that they're in a kind of stateless ambiguous place in relation to their rights. They're from somewhere, in this case Mexico, and they have rights guaranteed under international law. But you'd never know it; they've become like the Guantanamo Bay inmates who are defined as being neither prisoners of war or individual terrorists but "Unlawful Combatants", from conflicts where there in fact are no lawful combatants, just a constellation of "Unlawful Combatants" as the U.S. defines them.

Because he raped and killed two teenage girls his case appears to have been similar in tone to that of black folks who are accused of similar crimes, either rightly or wrongly, in that the spectre of an illegal immigrant committing a sex crime followed by murder of one white girl and one Hispanic girl brings the old time fears back into the forefront.

Picture for a second that you get arrested in Denmark for murder, where you've been living illegally, but aren't told about contacting the U.S. embassy and getting an idea of what you're rights are under international law. When you realize that you could have done so, Denmark refuses to allow the U.S. embassy any input into what happens to you and proceeds as if international law doesn't exist. Savvy Americans would throw a fit up and down the spectrum of radio, TV, print, and internet media. But because this guy was an illegal immigrant in Texas, the scenario was different.

Yes, he committed the crime. In the Danish example you might have too, but that wouldn't stop people in the U.S. from campaigning for some sort of fair treatment for you. In fact, if you even happen to be non-American and Anglo white your country will likely campaign for clemency even though you're completely guilty under both national and international law because the folks back home think the country you're in is too harsh in its punishments, as was the case with drug smugglers arrested in Malaysia from Australia. But then the people in these cases are all European.

Their lives matter more than that of an illegal.

No comments: