reports on the internment of houseless and migrant populations

trying to keep this updated. any links appreciated.


Hungary begins mass arrests, by Robert Samuels and William Booth 

15 September 2015

After shutting down the main corridor for refugees to Central Europe and fortifying its border with 109 miles of razor-wire fencing, Hungary on Tuesday began mass arrests of migrants who tried to sneak across its frontier.

More than 150 were detained as the country drew its line in the sand. Its get-tough approach to the European refugee crisis created an immediate bottleneck and howls of protest.

Within hours, a tent city sprouted on the Serbian side of the border, creating another potential flash point of misery and anger, as refugees scrambled for new routes to their preferred destinations in Germany and Scandinavia.

Hungary’s move was condemned by neighboring countries, humanitarian organizations and migrants, who staged spontaneous demonstrations along the newly erected fence.

Frustrated migrants break through police lines in Hungary, by Arwa Damon

8 September 2015

The people — mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — had complained about uncomfortable conditions in the camp and not knowing what would happen to them next. […]

They walked and hiked about 4 miles, many dropping their possessions on the ground. Two kids from one family lost the shoes they were wearing. They walked over a train track and rocks barefoot for miles.

Hungarian police raced after the fleeing migrants, some of whom may be refugees, and at some point the group was split in half.

note the recurring theme of apparently random people who are “taking advantage” of countries receiving, or interning, migrants as the case may be.

The migrants said they had been told buses would take them to another area where they would not be fingerprinted. They expected to later get on trains they hoped would take them to Austria and finally to Germany.

German government further restricts right to asylum, by Elisabeth Zimmerman

7 July 2015

A law concerning the right to residence and termination of residence of refugees has been passed by the German parliament with the support of a majority of the ruling Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD). It threatens all refugees who come to Germany with a massive expansion of detention.

The law, presented by Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere (CDU) and passed by parliament, will once again drastically reduce the right to asylum.

At the center of the new law is a further restriction (“restructuring”) of the right to asylum. It provides authorities with even more opportunities to impose restrictions on travel into Germany and residence there. In order to carry out expulsions more quickly and effectively, the legislation provides for the introduction of a new form of “outbound detention.” Those under suspicion of wanting to escape deportation can be kept in detention centers for up to four days. […]

The criminalization and imprisonment of refugees through official politics and the detainment of refugees that will be the consequence of the law are particularly perfidious and will provide an impetus to right-wing populists.

‘Guantanamo of the East’: Ukraine Locks Up Refugees at EU’s Behest, by Maximilian Popp

17 February 2015

After fleeing from Somalia in the summer of 2008, Hirsi tried several times to reach Europe through Ukraine. He was detained once each by Ukrainian and Hungarian border patrols, and twice by police in Slovakia. Ukrainian security forces robbed, beat and tortured him, he says. After being apprehended, he spent almost three years in four different Ukrainian prisons — for committing no crime other than seeking shelter and protection in Europe. […]

The European Union has provided Ukraine with €30 million ($34 million) in funding, which Kiev is using to build and renovate migrant detention centers, along with other facilities where they are housed temporarily. The International Organization for Migration received several million euros to support Ukrainian authorities in such areas as the internment of undocumented migrants. Brussels is apparently hoping that the system will reduce the number of asylum seekers in Europe — without attracting too much attention. […]

The western Ukrainian city of Uzhgorod is a transit point for migrants from all over the world. Even last year, despite the conflict in Ukraine, hundreds still tried to reach the EU from Eastern Europe. Refugees often spend months in Uzhgorod, waiting for relatives to send them money for the next part of their journey. For several hundred euros, Ukrainian traffickers take migrants from Uzhgorod across the border to Hungary or Slovakia, usually choosing secret paths through the Carpathian Mountains. Refugees freeze to death almost every winter along the arduous mountain route. […]

When migrants are apprehended in Ukraine, they are usually sent to semi-official detention facilities for a few days before being transferred to prisons. Few refugees have the chance to speak with an attorney.

The border guards interrogated Hirsi several times. Where are you from, they asked? Who smuggled you across the border? If he didn’t respond right away, says Hirsi, they would choke him and hit him in the face with their fists. He also says that his hands and feet were bound with cable ties several times, and he was given electric shocks. […]

Officially, politicians in Brussels and Kiev don’t refer to camps like Zhuravychi as prisons, but as “accommodations.” Nevertheless, they are internment camps that the refugees are not permitted to leave.

These Aren’t Refugee Camps, They’re Concentration Camps, and People Are Dying in Them, by Jason Motlagh

17 June 2014

Several days before he was born, Mohammad Johar’s family escaped the Buddhist mobs that attacked their Muslim neighborhood, leaving bodies and burned homes in their wake. The threat of renewed violence has since kept the family and tens of thousands of fellow ethnic Rohingya confined to a wasteland of camps, ringed by armed guards, outside this coastal town in western Burma. But enforced confinement has spawned more insidious dangers. Last week, 2-year-old Mohammad Johar died of diarrhea and other complications, contracted in a camp that state authorities claim was made to safeguard him. The local medical clinic was empty and the nearest hospital too far — perhaps impossible to reach, given that his family would have to secure permission to go outside the wire. “Only in death will he be free,” sighed his 18-year-old brother, Nabih, moments after wrapping the toddler’s body in a cotton shroud. […]

Construction is now under way for a sprawling, walled-off police base inside the camp’s perimeter. Doctors Without Borders, the international aid agency that was evicted by the government in February, has not been allowed back. […] [S]everal interned Rohingya tell TIME they were brutally beaten by Burmese security forces in recent weeks for attempting to supplement their diet by fishing beyond the boundaries of the camps. […]

Just off the road that leads inside, naked children with extended bellies loiter near a makeshift clinic that serves hundreds of families living in tarp-and-sheet-metal barracks. A line of mothers awaits the attention of Chit San Win, a former nurse who, out of necessity, has become a mobile doctor to the displaced. He sees an average of 40 patients a day and says conditions have become “much worse” since Doctors Without Borders was ousted, citing the dearth of government services and supplies.

‘We are prisoners here’, say migrants at Israel’s desert detention camp, by Robert Tait

4 April 2014

The men behind the forbidding barbed-wire topped fence had no doubts about their status.

“This is a jail. We are prisoners here,” said Tumizgie Okebamrime, standing with a group of fellow African refugees, all with arms raised and interlocked in symbolic handcuff gestures.

He was speaking from inside the grounds of Holot, a detention centre for illegal migrants in Israel’s Negev desert which the country’s authorities describe as “open”. […]

Holot – a wilderness of prefabricated huts and fenced-in compounds close to the Egyptian frontier – has become the focal point of Israel’s treatment of roughly 50,000 African refugees, whom the government considers to be illegal economic migrants.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, sees the refugees – whom he calls “infiltrators” – as a threat to Israel’s character as a Jewish democratic state. […]

The centre was opened in December – supposedly as a compromise – after the Israeli high court struck down a law allowing illegal immigrants to be jailed without trial for three years.

Instead, the government added an amendment that reduced jail terms to one year but enabled migrants to be housed indefinitely in an “open” facility. […]

Those in Holot – whose numbers have climbed in recent weeks to 1,500 men, housed 10 to a room – say conditions are far from open and in many ways worse than prison.

While they are supposedly free to leave, stringent rules requiring them to register three times a day, together with the centre’s remote location, render that impractical. Failing to register twice is considered a criminal offence, likely to result in a jail term. […]

With plans to extend its capacity to 9,000, the government boasts that its tactics are working, with the number of departing refugees rising steeply . Gidon Saar, the Israeli interior minister, last week said nearly 4,000 asylum seekers had left Israel since the start of the year, compared to just 63 in November, the month before Holot opened.

“its tactics are working.” absolutely sickening.

Hungary PM: bring back death penalty and build work camps for immigrants, by Ian Traynor

29 April 2015

The prime minister also reinforced his reputation as the EU’s main maverick with a powerful anti-immigration manifesto that equates migrants with terrorists, says immigrants are taking Hungarians’ jobs, recommends internment camps for illegal immigrants and states they should be forced to work.

Refugees Fear Internment Camps in the Netherlands, by Jose Abreu

14 August 2015

When Dutch police interact with an individual, they immediately ask, “where were you born?” and depending on the visa agreement which those countries enjoy with the Netherlands, their treatment can be either extremely pleasant or subhuman. […]

Yes, the country which is host to the International Criminal Court is also a country to which refugees are not deported by the same country which would have exterminated them just several decades ago.

Though the Netherlands primarily seeks to export an image as a “tolerant” nation, refugees are suffering in fear of being discarded in internment camps, and German courts are agreeing.

20 August 2013

In order to accommodate all the homeless people who will now be banned from downtown, the city will partner with a local charity to keep an emergency shelter on the outskirts of town open 24 hours a day. However, it’s unlikely the shelter, which can handle 240 guests, will be enough to handle the local homeless population, which numbers more than six times the available beds.

Homeless people can stay at the shelter, but they’re not permitted to walk off the premises. In fact, Columbia will even post a police officer on the road leading to the shelter to ensure that homeless people don’t walk towards downtown. If they want to leave, they need to set up an appointment and be shuttled by a van.

Honolulu city officials vote to transfer homeless to former WWII internment camp, by Kevin Martinez

15 September 2014

[P]lans are being made to transfer 100 of the most “chronic” homeless from Waikiki, the world famous tourist destination, to Sand Island, home to a former World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans, wastewater treatment plant and former dump. During the early 1900’s, the island was also used as a quarantine station for immigrants.

Homeless people are now forced to move on or face being arrested if they sit or lie down in certain parts of Hawaii, especially on sidewalks in the Waikiki area. The new bill passed by City Council members also bans urinating and defecating in public throughout Oahu island. Many city council members unsurprisingly have ties to the multi-billion dollar tourism industry which wants to maintain the fiction that Hawaii is an island paradise immune to problems like homelessness and poverty.

City Officials Accused of Creating Homeless ‘Internment Camp’, by Jennifer Wadsworth

12 August 2014

About 15 people living on a dirt parking lot next to San Jose’s largest homeless settlement received notices from the city Friday night warning them to clear out in time for a clean-up or face arrest.

“You are TRESPASSING and will be subject to CRIMINAL PROSECUTION if you remain,” the flyer cautioned. “You MUST remove all of your property from this location by 7am on Monday.”

Robert Aguirre, 60, felt panicked. He lived at “The Jungle,” a sprawling encampment with 300-plus residents across from Happy Hollow Park, for 15 months, he said, and he’s spent the last four months on the street-level side in a large yellow-trimmed tent pitched by shrubs and a wooden trestle.

“We worked our way up the hill,” Aguirre said Sunday. “My wife’s sick, so we had to move up. She couldn’t go up and down that hill no more. Now where? Back down?”

South Carolina city makes being homeless illegal, by Barnini Chakraborty

28 August 2013

But Columbia is not alone. This summer, Portland, Ore., and Tampa, Fla., also initiated steps to boot out their homeless.

Portland’s Mayor Charlie Hales announced last month he was fed up with the growing number of homeless people camped outside the steps of City Hall and vowed to use the law to crack down on the practice. Portland prohibits “camping” on public property.

Last week, five homeless residents were rounded up and arrested, and the mayor’s office says that’s just the beginning.

Following those arrests, Portland police promised to start rigorously enforcing the city’s camping ban everywhere. There are an estimated 1,700 homeless in Portland.

Dana Haynes, a spokesman for Hales, said the city is arming Portland police with a list of places where the homeless are known to sleep or “camp” at night.

The Tampa City Council passed a new ordinance 4-3 in July that would allow police officers to arrest anyone they see sleeping in public or “storing personal property in public.”

According to a 2012 homeless study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, five states account for nearly half of the nation’s total homeless population. They are: California, New York, Florida, Texas and Georgia.

The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness study also found that among mid-sized cities, Tampa and its surrounding area had the highest number of homeless individuals at 7,419.

During the 1990s, then New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani planned to remove homeless people from shelters if they refused to work. New York City cops also started handing out $76 citations to the homeless who “camped in public.”

Topix forum: Rounding Up The Homeless; Internment Camps

post by Chris Deile, 28 August 2013

This is very real! Colorado springs several years ago made it illegal to camp anywhere within city limits as well–homeless must stay in the shelter.

Union Gospel Mission director in Bellingham, Wa in 2009, at a City Council meeting I was in attendance at as well, called from the podium (during public comment) to get the homeless off the streets, out of the libraries, and into a day center by day and the UGM by night. Forced removal from society. I objected to his comments in a letter published in the weekly newspaper there.

Police harass me everywhere I go for sleeping in my van. Neighborhood residents are aggressive in calling police when they see someone sleeping in their vehicle. Weeks ago, in Vancouver, WA I was parked legally in a secluded spot on the edge of a subdivision near a high school track (across the street). Neighbors coming in and out of the subdivision called the police on me three nights out of about 5 or 6. Woken up, ID’d, told they resdients did not want me there.

Note: I was parked legally–the signs said only no parking during school hours 8a-4p.(something like that–forget details now but even police agreed when i showed them the sign right by where I was parked that it was legal to park there overnight, and it was summertime–no school yet. That was Salmon Creek, Vancouver, WA. Police advised me to go to Portland even though my drivers license is WA.

Police Write Ordinance for City Council that Criminalizes Homeless Camps and Occupy Movement

7 June 2012

On Tuesday, June 5th, in a 6-1 vote, the City Council passed an ordinance that would make forms of illegal camping a misdemeanor within Modesto. Despite an over-whelming majority of the crowd coming out to shout down the ordinance, calling it a “war on the poor,” and claiming that it was leading Modesto into “a police state,” everyone on the Council voted in favor of the move except the new Mayor, Garrad Marsh. But Marsh’s nay vote didn’t come out of his love for the homeless or freedom itself, he was simply concerned that it didn’t contain language that would allow parents with homes to allow their children to camp outside.

The decision for the camping criminalization ordinance came when a subcommittee of the City Council allowed members of the Modesto Police Department to write up and create the ordinance. But the criminalization of camping is not just aimed at stamping out the homeless. According to the Modesto Bee:

City officials said the camping ordinance will give police a tool to deal with makeshift camps that increasingly are appearing in Modesto. It also will give police the authority to break up any camps tied to the Occupy movement and prohibit residential property owners from charging rent to campers.

Under the ordinance, anyone who stores personal property, including camping paraphernalia, on public or private property without consent of the owner can be cited on a misdemeanor. Those convicted could be sentenced to jail and probation. 

Council members claim that the push for the ordinance came after businesses began complaining of homeless people living in the back of parking lots along McHenry Ave. as well as from people who have complained that they “can’t walk their dogs” along the canal on Briggsmore Ave., due to homeless encampments.

Greece to open new detention centres for illegal migrants, by Helena Smith

29 March 2012

Greece will open the first of up to 30 camps for illegal immigrants within weeks, in what some describe as a “desperate bid” to contain the social chaos prompted by the economic crisis.

In Athens officials have approved the construction of three of the 30 detention centres that the government has vowed to build on disused military sites.

“The first centre will begin operating in the next 30 to 45 days,” the deputy public order minister, Manolis Othona, said. “It will open as long as the buildings are in sufficiently good shape.”

It was the first official confirmation that the camps would be operational before the Greek general election in early May.

A wave of migrants from the developing world has been blamed for a rise in crime that authorities say has assumed “epidemic proportions”. […]

For several consecutive years more than 90% of all illegal migrants detained in the EU have been caught in Greece. Around 130,000 are estimated to enter the country each year, exploiting the long, unwieldy Greek coastline and the porous northern frontier which would-be migrants view as Europe’s back door. […]

Around 5,000 migrants have been revealed as living in an estimated 500 abandoned buildings. More than 2,000 other properties occupied by migrants have been denounced as unfit for human habitation. Doctors and officials have described the conditions as a “public health time bomb”.

Police with sniffer dogs conducted a major “sweep” of the area on Thursday, rounding up undocumented migrants and illegal street vendors.

“The current situation cannot continue,” said the citizens’ protection minister, Michalis Chrysohoidis, announcing the campaign to move 30,000 illegal migrants into “closed hospitality centres” under a €250m (£208m) EU-funded scheme.

Officials thin ranks at Tent City, by David Kelly

18 March 2008

ONTARIO — Dozens of police and code-enforcement officers descended upon the homeless encampment known as Tent City early Monday, separating those people who could stay from those to be evicted.

Large, often confused, crowds formed ragged lines behind police barricades where officers handed out color-coded wristbands. Blue meant they were from Ontario, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, and could remain. Orange indicated they had to provide more proof to avoid ejection and white bands signaled they had a week to leave. […]

“They are tagging us because we are homeless,” she said, staring at her orange wristband. ” … It feels like a concentration camp.”

Ontario officials, citing health and safety issues, say it is necessary to thin out Tent City. The move to dramatically reduce the population curtails an experiment begun in 2007 to provide a city-approved camp where homeless people would not be harassed.

Land had been set aside near Ontario International Airport for the homeless, providing tents, toilets and water. Officials intended to limit the camp and its amenities to local homeless but did little to enforce that order as the site expanded, attracting people from as far away as Florida.

Los Angeles considering proposal to ban feeding homeless people in public, by Clare Kim

27 November 2013

As the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County continues to rise, the City Council is weighing a ban on feeding homeless people in public areas.

City Council members Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell, both Democrats, introduced the resolution after complaints from Los Angeles residents. Arguing that meal lines should be moved indoors, the legislators said the proposal would benefit both the homeless and residential neighborhoods.

Actor Alexander Polinsky is one Los Angeles resident who complained about the number of homeless people crowding his neighborhood.

“If you give out free food on the street with no other services to deal with the collateral damage, you get hundreds of people beginning to squat,” Polinsky toldThe New York Times. “They are living in my bushes and they are living in my next door neighbor’s crawl spaces. We have a neighborhood which now seems like a mental ward.” […]

Los Angeles would join “dozens of cities in recent years” including Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., and Orlando, Fla. that have either enacted or at least debated legislation aimed at regulating the public feeding of the homeless. Over 50 cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. […]

In Orlando, Fla. a federal appeals court unanimously ruled in 2011 that the city can restrict the feeding of the homeless in order to protect the parks. A spokesperson for the city said that residents and business owners originally complained about trash left after the food distribution, public urination and concerns about crime.

The court decision states, “The City of Orlando enacted the ordinance to spread the burden that feedings of large groups have on parks and their surrounding neighborhoods.”

City officials were then allowed to enforce an ordinance restricting weekly feeding of the homeless in downtown parks.

The Deplorable Conditions One Former Employee Witnessed At A Family Detention Center, by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

27 July 2015

A social worker has come forward to talk about the deplorable conditions she witnessed at a family detention center in Texas built in response to the large increase of Central American migrants that came across the southern U.S.-Mexico border last year.

At a Judiciary Democrats’ Forum on Family Detention set for Tuesday, Olivia Lopez, a former worker who worked at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes, Texas, will testify that she saw young children who regressed developmentally, detainees who were placed in isolation for speaking out, and superiors who wanted a “clean paper trail” because the facility was under constant audits, McClatchy DC first reported.

In an interview with McClatchy, Lopez said, “I walked in and thought, ‘oh my Lord, this is really a prison.’” She said that while there were state-of-the-art medical equipment and recreational activities for both mothers and children, the detainees were always locked up and that “they know they’re in a prison. They know they can’t leave.”

Our Homeless Crisis: Is Portland ready for tent cities?, by Anna Griffin

29 June 2015

Earlier this summer, officers spent three weeks working to reduce the number of people sleeping outside along the Eastbank Esplanade and on the streets near OMSI and under the eastern end of the Fremont Bridge. They were responding to complaints from neighbors and to camps that had grown too sprawling to control or ignore, officers said.

Virginia Beach OKs homeless plan prompted by Oceanfront death, by Aaron Applegate

29 September 2010

note: this columnist reports this as “help” for the houseless, but why are these funds being made available in cities nationwide for such projects while houses sit empty, entire neighborhoods fall to disarray? and why are these budgets so low relatively speaking?

$100,000 – will be seed money for a long-term project to build a residential facility for homeless people with substance-abuse problems. “The Healing Place of Hampton Roads” would have 280 beds in two buildings on separate 5-acre sites for male and female residents from across the region.

The project is estimated to take 10 years to complete, said Andy Friedman, director of housing and neighborhood preservation. A location has not been chosen. A memo on the project said it would not be near residential areas.

In the short term, the city also plans to spend $50,000 to help homeless people with issues such as housing after surgeries, bus tickets to medical appointments and basic medical supplies. An additional $25,000 will be spent on basic living supplies and transportation. The money would supplement money collected from the city’s new “donation meters” at the Oceanfront. The meters are designed to discourage panhandling at the resort area and raise money for the homeless.

US Army job listing specifically for Internment/Resettlement Specialists

Ukiah considers crackdown on panhandling, transients, by Glenda Anderson

21 September 2014

The City Council is weighing tougher criminal penalties for aggressive panhandlers and transients who dwell under bridges and on other public property even as they concede that many of those people have nowhere else to stay, store their belongings or use a toilet. […]

(my god the wording in the next paragraph)

The council introduced changes to the ordinances that would allow police to charge people who camp illegally and aggressively panhandle with misdemeanors on the first offense. Currently, offenders are given warnings or infractions before being criminally charged. But Ukiah Police Chief Chris Dewey said it’s difficult to track what happens with the infractions. Giving police and the District Attorney’s Office the option of initially charging violators with misdemeanors increases their ability to crack down on troublemakers who refuse to comply with the rules, he said. It would be up to the discretion of officers whether to issue warnings or submit charges to the district attorney, Dewey said. He promised officers would be fair.

No simple answers to homeless problems, Key West Citizen Editorial

unsure of the date, appears to be from around 2007 or 08

If a homeless person meets the criteria for involuntary examination under Florida law (the Baker Act) because he or she is a danger to himself, herself or others, a police officer may take the person to a receiving facility for examination.

If a police officer observes a person who, because of homelessness, commits any one of a long list of misdemeanors (public nudity, violating curfew, camping, obstructing passage on sidewalks, etc.), the officer must offer the homeless person the option of going to an available shelter. If the person accepts, no arrest can be made. If the person refuses, he or she may be arrested.

A police officer may arrest a homeless person who is engaging in non-life-sustaining conduct that is a misdemeanor or a felony, without regard to availability of a shelter.

Let’s End the Detention of Migrant Families, by Mich Gonzalez

8 June 2015

Federal law allows non-citizens to be detained to ensure they attend all of their hearings or because they are deemed a danger to the community. Immigration detention is not supposed to be punitive. Yet, nearly all of the more than 350 detention facilities are built and run on a corrections model. They are jails. Billion-dollar companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group run many of these immigration jails.

The GEO Group runs the Karnes family jail. One of the bleakest moments during my week as a volunteer attorney was when I had to explain to one of the women that the logo on all of the staff polo shirts belonged to a company and not to the federal government. When I told her that this company receives a certain amount of money per day for every bed they fill, including that of her 3-year-old daughter, she shook her head in disgust and cried. […]

They had come to view this immigration jail as acceptable – as a “family residential center.”

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