Tag: detainee mistreatment at immigration detention centers

Changes Announced for Immigration Detention System, But Are They Enough?

After years of criticism by immigrant advocates and numerous scathing reports from national and international organizations, the Obama administration is making some changes to the immigration detention system.  The changes were announced on Thursday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on its website.

Amnesty International criticizes immigration detention in the U.S. - Photo: Amnesty International/Steven Rubin

Immigrant detainees. (Photo: Amnesty International/Steven Rubin)

One measure getting a positive reaction from advocates is the discontinuation of  the practice of keeping families at the T. Don Hutto detention facility in Texas. But other changes to the system that houses more than 30,000 people on any given day are seen by some as more of a reorganization than an actual overhaul.  They include the creation of a new supervisory office to “design and plan” the detention system; the appointment of detention managers to supervise the 23 biggest facilities in the country; and the establishment of an Office of Detention Oversight.

In addition, ICE says it will create two “advisory groups” with advocacy organizations, which will deal with “general policies and practices,” on the one hand, and detainee health care, on the other.

Advocates already expressed some misgivings about the changes, announced as “major reforms” by ICE.

“…(W)ithout independently enforceable standards, a reduction in beds, or basic due process before people are locked up, it is hard to see how the government’s proposed overhaul of the immigration detention system is anything other than a reorganization or renaming of what was in place before,” Vanita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, told The New York Times.


Immigrant Detainees on Hunger Strike After White House Rejects Change to Detention Standards

Immigrants in a Louisiana detention center began a hunger strike this week to protest the dismal conditions in which they say they are being held.

The detainees’ decision comes in the same week that two new reports –by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)– showed that the U.S. government continues to violate the rights of detained immigrants –held for breaking civil, not criminal, laws.

The hunger strike is also a response to the Obama administration’s refusal to change the system for inspecting  immigration detention centers that was created during the Bush era and for enforcing minimum standards the government set in 2000. This decision, according to The New York Times, “disappointed and angered immigration advocacy organizations around the country.”

Immigrants at the detention center in Basile, Louisiana, decided to start the protest after reporting “egregious violations to jail staff, immigration officials and advocates,” said the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, which is supporting them. According to About.com’s immigration specialist Jennifer McFadyen, this is the fifth hunger strike in four weeks at the jail.