Sick and Detained

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nina Bernstein, New York Times immigration reporter, and Queens Councilman John Liu (D-20, discuss the death of a Queens father who died of cancer while in detention awaiting deportation.


Nina Bernstein and Comptroller John Liu

Comments [34]


The point is not whether someone feels "bad" about being an American. Moving forward is not a self-esteem issue. It's about addressing the issues that are preventing in a comprehensive manner - and that requires not patting ourselves on the back, but actual leadership and seriously tough sacrifices, of which we've made none. And btw, all that wonderful stuff you name about America is in serious peril because of an almost utter lack of fiscal responsibility on, yes, both sides of the aisle.
I think we can both agree that at the point when US leadership starts addressing (at the very least) our unbelievable debt, we can all start feeling better - or at least a little less nervous again. But there's no point in patting yourself on the back when your country is $9.5 trillion in debt, and that's not even counting unfunded mandates like social security. That may not even include the $3 trillion (yes, $3 trillion) Iraq fiasco. As you pass over the falls in a barrel, will it matter your national self-esteem? Come on! I will grant you that we "need to get our poop together"; unfortunately, part of that requires acknowledging that in many, many, many ways we are no longer the best. If you don't believe me, try to split a dollar bill into $9.5 trillion little pieces...

Aug. 18 2008 07:41 PM

Jon P on #31, #32
"As tarnished as she is, who is better?" I could name several Western European nations, and at least one Asian nation. But that all depends on your definition of "better," right? Are we measuring on civil liberties, infant mortality rates, math scores, on taxation, on fiscal responsibility, on health care.... what are the criteria?
Humble though you claim to be, declaring your country #1 doesn't fit, does it? In fact, you could rank no few number of nations near the top, with much place switching as the criteria used to judge changes. E.g., I'd prefer the health care offered in Britain rather than the care offered here, and I do not suggest that lightly, having worked at one of the most respected hospitals in the US. Even the most earnest of doctors and nurses will tell you that it's money that matters in what kind of care the "average joe" receives. (cont.)

Aug. 18 2008 07:41 PM
Illegal Immigration is a Crime from New York

Firstly, it's terrible that this man suffered.

However, where is the outrage that an illegal alien was harbored and employed for all these years? Where are the calls for investigation of his employer of so long?

I was amused to see someone chiming in with the old "illegal immigration is not a crime" canard.

Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, "Improper Entry by Alien," any citizen of any country other than the United States who:

* Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or
* Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or
* Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact;

has committed a federal crime.

Violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months. Repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison. Additional civil fines may be imposed at the discretion of immigration judges, but civil fines do not negate the criminal sanctions or nature of the offense.

Aug. 18 2008 04:06 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

My original gripe was a comment made that people should not say America is the best. As tarnished and broken as she is, who is better? I don’t like what I see outside, I don’t like how corporate America owns both, yes both sides of the isle. America has come along way but still has very far to go. But she’ll go nowhere in the existing split down the middle environment we live in. There are many times you should feel bad to be an American. But not all the time. We do need to recognize we are the best and if we don’t get our poop together, we won’t be the best for much longer. Eva, I realize I might not be making much sense here and I apologize for that. Writing and philosophy are not my forte. I’m just a stupid Heavy equipment designer that love’s thy neighbor no matter what color or religion or beliefs they may have and I love my and your country. I guess I just whish more people felt that way right now.

Aug. 18 2008 03:25 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


I think were more on the same page then you think. By no means do I think we should just shrug our problems off. I did say that ill wills that go on in this country should have a loud voice. Don’t ever give up the good fight. And I did say there where atrocities that went on in America during WW2. and I do cry foul that during ww2 German Americans went about their business while Japanese Americans are being locked up. I disagree with your comparison of ww2 corporate America with today’s corporate America. Ask your parents or grandparents about the conditions they worked in back then. Ask them if they had any rights as a worker. The type of environment I was talking about and experienced wasn’t in a big corporate office; it was in small mom and pop shops. I have never seen everyone working as a team in a corporate situation. I’m sure it happens. But I’ve never seen it. And it scares the hell out me when I here people talk about Muslims as if they were pure evil and it seems like they would be quite content to go back to McCarthyism days and lock them all up. I’m not afraid to tell t hem they are crazy, no mater who they are.

Aug. 18 2008 03:24 PM

Jon P,
and further... sorry!
but it is just not acceptable to shrug off the deaths of innocent people by suggesting "still, things are better here." In fact, that is how things get worse here.
Let me give you a metaphor. A patient has cancer. He goes to the doctor. The doctor says, "hey, you have somewhat advanced testicular cancer, but you're still running seven minute miles, so what the hell. Get out of my office, I've got people with stage 4 cancer lining up. And you don't really need your balls, do you?"
When there is a problem, admit there is a problem, address the problem. Do not think that because you are still running seven minute miles that everything is hunky dory. That is how you end up in fiascos like Iraq. BTW, are you feeling great about the fact that we've depleted our military and now don't know what to do about Putin? Sigh...

Aug. 18 2008 02:13 PM

Jon P,
I understand your position, and I have taken it before. But when the subject at hand is Mr. Eng, there is simply no way, and no good excuse, for saying, "well, people were treated worse during WWII, so forget this poor slob who died in detention. Let's just put on a happy face because that's what is expected in a corporate environment." I'd argue that the corporate environment example you bring up is, in large part, what has destroyed the communal spirit that took place during the WWII effort.
I myself come from a minority group that has been heavily discriminated against in this country, then again, we could have been treated worse, so who's complaining? But even former Japanese American internees (as long as you're brining up WWII) spoke out about the detention of innocent Arabs and Muslims after 9/11. In many of those cases, the detention was actually WORSE than what happened to the Japanese. And at least people knew where the Japanese went to, and families weren't separated.
Yes, we need to stress what we do right. But you know what? The ratio of what we do right vs. what has occurred over the last 15, and especially the last seven years, demands criticism. I get your point, I really do, but you're missing the larger point.

Aug. 18 2008 02:08 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


Don’t get me started on heavy machinery, that’s what I design for a living…. But in all seriousness I’m not sure how my opinion is unsupportable? Should I be like # 24 and just give up and move to Canada? Should I hate my neighbor just because I don’t agree with him? Who or what does that help? I ask again, how do you get anything real done if nobody wants to play together? Is constantly blaming each other making this country move forward?

Heck, I’m just glad I live in country where I can write on a forum like this and write what I’m writing about without fear of being arrested… You should be glad to…

Aug. 18 2008 01:37 PM

John P, you want to be united so we can get far more accomplished? Drop your unsupportable, neanderthalic opinion so the rest of us can stand by you, instead of between you and heavy machinery.

Aug. 18 2008 01:20 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


I think a good analogy would be have you ever worked a company where no one really got along or had anything nice to say about each other? No comradely or sense of being one unit? Nobody has anything nice to say bout each other to the point that that’s all they cared bout, badmouthing each other? Did a lot get done at that employer? And then have you worked for a company where everybody might not have gotten along but everyone knew they where part of a team and where all working for the same goal? Which Business was more successful? Which business did you actually feel like you wanted to be a part of?

Aug. 18 2008 01:16 PM
dd from nyc

Move to Canada And watch the empire end.

Aug. 18 2008 01:02 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


As I said, there are many things wrong with this country and I feel as you do that we do have to address the serious unjust that goes on with immigrants and a host of other social issues. But bad mouthing America all the time makes for good radio and TV but only divides people, not unite. When you’re all on the same team, you can get far more done. Look at WW2. we thought we were the best, we took on the world and we won. Was there social unrest? Where minorities treated badly? Where civil liberties trampled on? You bet! And far greater then anything we could image today. But that being said, we worked together as one unit, not as a divided country and we achieved the impossible. Could you imagine what we could do today if we were even half as united as we where back then? I guess my frustration is I know this country is screwed up but it seems like now we never look at what we have done unless it’s bad. We never highlight the good. The bad should always be brought to attention as loud as can be. But how do unite people to be on one team if only the bad is brought up? So far all bad press doesn’t seem to be fixing any problems.

Aug. 18 2008 12:56 PM

Of course you should give credit where due, and this country deserves credit (even if it apparently no longer deserves financial credit, given the $9.5 trillion federal deficit.)
Let's not confuse people who want to protect our civil liberties with people who disdain the US. The criticism here is valid, and it is in effort to not go down the slippery slope.
Simply saying, "Well, immigrants are OVERALL treated better here than in Paris" doesn't cut the mustard. And it does nothing for individuals like Mr. Eng. And isn't individualism what separates us from authoritarian regimes like, well, name your pick.

Aug. 18 2008 12:29 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

To # 12,

I agree that we should try to learn more from other counties. I also truly believe that we don’t have all the freedom we think we have and our civil liberties are shrinking everyday. And you can right volumes (as many have) on all the civil unjust that still goes on with minorities in America. But I have to ask with all this in mind, what country with over 300 million people (third largest population in the world), let me say that again, over 300 million people and such a wide range of culture has more overall freedom and rights and opportunities? You cant even name a country in Europe that has anywhere near 300 million people in it (closest is Germany at 80 million, not even 1/3rd the size of America).
Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due….

Aug. 18 2008 12:20 PM

ICE is where people who can't make police office go to get their jollies off. There.

Aug. 18 2008 12:06 PM

WAIT! All of the ridiculous, UNRELATED racism on this board and my comments about ICE agents being dimwitted highschool jock rejects with small packages get deleted? WTF?

Aug. 18 2008 12:04 PM
Sick of the free pass on anti-white racism from NYC

@13: The loss of life that follows the black race is truly what is sickening.

Tutsis-Hutus, much? Uganda? Sudan?

* Blacks are just 13 percent of the population in the US but they commit more than half the muggings and murders in the country. Hispanics commit violent crimes at about three times the white rate.

* The proportion of blacks and Hispanics in an area is the single best indicator of how dangerous it is. The racial mix is a much better predictor of crime rates than poverty, unemployment, and dropout rates combined.

* Blacks actually commit more violent crime against whites than blacks. A black is about 39 times more likely to do violence to a white than the other way around, and no less than 130 times more likely to rob a white.

* Every year there are about 15,000 black-on-white rapes but fewer than 900 white-on-black rapes. There are more than 3,000 gang rapes of whites by blacks—but white-on-black gang rapes are so rare they do not even show up in the statistics.

Aug. 18 2008 12:00 PM

Christopher Deignan:

Lewis Black on the same topic you brought up:

Aug. 18 2008 11:44 AM

What percentage of Americans have lost jobs because of American companies outsourcing jobs to Ireland, China, India, etc?
Compare that to the percentage of Americans who have lost jobs due to immigration. Think about it.
I'm not saying we don't need immigration reform, but a corporatized "detention" industry is NOT the answer, and there is no excuse for detaining Mr. Eng. The fact that this could happen to someone who was married to a U.S. citizen, as Mr. Eng was, seems even more strange.

Aug. 18 2008 11:41 AM

Yes, O, he left children behind - but not in Hong Kong, here in the US, and not because he abandoned anyone, but because he died while in "detainment." He came here when he was 17, so it is unlikely that he left children behind in what is now China. Per Nina Bernstein's article:
"He was 17 when he came to New York from Hong Kong in 1992 with his parents and younger sister, eyeing the skyline like any newcomer. Fifteen years later, Hiu Lui Ng was a New Yorker: a computer engineer with a job in the Empire State Building, a house in Queens, a wife who is a United States citizen and two American-born sons."

Aug. 18 2008 11:36 AM
John R. from Manhattan

How stultifyingly boring to hear yet another immigrant sob story. It's a terrible thing that happened, but the obvious solution is to cut immigration down to a sustainable rate (perhaps 50,000 a year) and to dismantle the whole immigration industry.

I wish Brian would invite someone other than an open-borders hack like Nina Bernstein and provide some balanced coverage of the issue.

How about a piece--heck, a whole show!--on the American victims of immigrants: those who have lost jobs; those who have been robbed; and those who have been killed.



Aug. 18 2008 11:35 AM
scnex from harlem

immigrants? were the people in power today here 600 years ago? the destruction of life that follows the white race is truly what is sick.

the fact that this discussion is touted about such careful dialog is clear and only reflects the sickness of this power base's ideologies.

what is white is right. cannot expect the right to look at itself, for its the true sickness of the world. speaking of cancer...

Aug. 18 2008 11:35 AM
Christopher Deignan from Middle Village, Queens

In an effort to rebuild the U.S.'s reputation around the world and exercise a little humility, can we all stop using the phrase "this is the greatest country in the world". It means absolutely nothing. There are great things about this country, but there are plenty of things about other countries which are "better" than what we have here in the U.S e.g. universal healthcare etc.

I honestly feel that if those who use that ridiculous "greatest" phrase would cease and desist they would be more open to assimilating good working ideas from other countries.

Great show Brian.

Aug. 18 2008 11:34 AM
ab's off topic but since you guys brought it up...the reason the Edwards' affair was not given as much attention at first was because it was broke by the freaking ENQUIRER!!!

Interesting how some conveniently ignore this. The MCM is bad enough as we really want them to start taking their lead from the Enquirer?????? You think they are bad now, just wait until the Enquirer is treated like a legitimate source...

Aug. 18 2008 11:28 AM

Thank you, Nick and ab,
I waas so horrified by the story that I couldn't finish reading it. I was told years ago about the situation for people detained, but nothing got through to me how bad it is until this story.
It is so horrifying that people could be treated like this, and people wouldn't even know about it if it were not for reporters like Nina Bernstein.

Aug. 18 2008 11:26 AM
Michael from Manhattan

I believe that this is a result of the insensitivity that has characterized the Bush admin's subtle attitudes towards non white immigrants ... and society in general.. Noctice the difference between The Guilanni admin's incidents and Bloomberg and Bush vs Clinton. Much as it was "Guyilanni time" it has ben "Bush's Time". Non whites are targets and its "ok".

Aug. 18 2008 11:26 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

What happened is horrific, but this case is being presented as a norm, incorrectly. If the immigration laws were followed and enforced by the State as they are written maybe these situations would not happen or at least less so.

This is what happens when the States decide to not go along with the law of the land, like San Francisco's decision to advertise their sanctuary policy.

Aug. 18 2008 11:22 AM

The movie "Children of Men" is becoming a reality more and more in this country.

I agree, what happened to this man was evil and our "system" is becoming evil and disgustingly racist.

Aug. 18 2008 11:21 AM
Debra from NYC

It is great that you are talking about this issue, but please correct your erroneous statement that immigrants here illegally have committed a crime -- they are NOT criminals NOR accused of any crime. Immigration violations are CIVIL violations, and yet people simply accused of such violations are incarcerated as are convicted felons, in similar or worse conditions, with no right to a lawyer and almost no judicial discretion to release them.

Aug. 18 2008 11:21 AM
Brian Lehrer Moderator

Hi Guys,

We removed some comments from this thread because of offensive language. Please, when you comment on any thread, be civil, on topic, and refrain from offensive language.

Brian Lehrer Moderator

Aug. 18 2008 11:20 AM
O from Forest Hills

Did this man whom crossed over have any children he left behind?

Where are the Immigration lawyers that are supposed to be helping immigrants?

Aug. 18 2008 11:19 AM
Matt from Manhattan

Start by dehumanizing someone and calling them an "alien" it can and will always get worse from there.

Aug. 18 2008 11:15 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

It's synchronistic that a caller in the last segment articulated some objective truth about the nature of evil.

What happened to Mr Ng was evil.

No individual in the chain of scores of people who were dealing with Ng had the "evil" "conscious" intention of torturing and murdering an innocent man; but, in effect, that's exactly what happened here.

We Americans (on the whole) STILL haven't learned the lesson of the "banality of evil" or of the truism "the road to hell is paved with "good" intentions".

There is a collection of perverse incentives that create the evil status quo.

I could go on at great length on what those perverse incentives are; but the one most obvious one is that we have a privatized prison industrial complex that is the primary force driving policy.

I pray that there is a paradise where Mr Eng will receive his just rewards for suffering the hell on Earth that America provided for him.

Shame on Bush and shame on every one of us for allowing these evils to be perpetrated in our name!

Aug. 18 2008 11:09 AM
O from Forest Hills

Welcome back Brian Lehrer! Great to have you back!

Aug. 18 2008 10:42 AM

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