The LA Times reports on the post-9/11 laws denying admission to the
The first time they came for her, the Colombian guerrillas shoved the 31-year-old nurse blindfolded into the back of a green Renault sedan. Her kidnappers took her to a house and forced her to treat one of their commandants, who was writhing in pain from a bullet wound to the leg.
The woman said she was abducted seven more times in 1997 and 1998 to give medical care to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia members. They warned her not to go to the police. "I know you have a daughter," one man said, prodding her with a gun. In 2000, after her cousin was tortured and killed, she fled. Now she is in
Northern California, working as a nurse and raising her daughter.
Today, her hopes of staying in the
have run smack into the war on terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security rejected her asylum claim. Their reason: By giving the guerrillas medical care — willingly or not — she was supporting terrorism. U.S.
Laws passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, deny admission to anyone who has provided "material support" — money, food, clothing, advice — to terrorist groups. In the last few years, these provisions and the definition of terrorism have been expanded to the point that they are disqualifying people who even immigration judges agree pose no threat to the U.S.
Refugee advocates cite cases in which the administration has denied asylum to Liberian women forced to cook and clean for rebels who raped them and killed family members. Colombians who paid kidnappers' ransoms to free family members also have been barred for providing material support. So many refugee applicants have been blocked for this reason that last year the United Nations Refugee Agency stopped trying to settle Colombians in the
This is seriously problematic, and it fundamentally undermines the asylum/refugee system, such as it is. It’s not even a rational policy, since we’re effectively giving a green light to guerilla groups to go ahead and abuse the local population. As far as we’re concerned, victims of terror, if they’re not American, merit the same treatment as perpetrators of terror. The raped are as culpable as the rapists. This administration can’t be bothered to distinguish between the two groups.
This is par for the course for an administration that has allowed the immigration system to fall into shameful disrepair—intentionally or out of sheer incompetence and carelessness, it isn’t clear—for instance, by failing to enact any implementing regulations whatsoever to govern U-visa applications (available to victims of crimes who cooperate with law enforcement authorities) 6 years after the visa category was created by Congress. Let’s say you have no legal status in this country and you’ve been kidnapped and brutally raped by a
The main take-away message with all of this is that unless you have a