Immigration Detention: Getting Worse, Not Better

"The conditions haven't improved at all."


Melissa del Bosque writes in the Texas Observer:

Back in 2009, the Obama administration promised reform of the massive, mostly for-profit U.S. immigrant detention system. Immigrant advocates are still waiting.

The number of deportees hasn't diminished and private detention facilities continue to expand. Every year more than 400,000 people waiting for hearings with an immigration judge are housed in far-flung jails and grim detention centers across the nation….

Last year, the nonprofit watchdog group Detention Watch Network issued a report on 10 of the most inhumane lockups in the nation, saying they should be closed immediately because of myriad human rights abuses. The group sent a letter and a copy of the report to President Obama outlining their concerns and calling for the closures….The 10 facilities were identified as the worst in the nation by a coalition of more than 320 immigrant advocate groups, community organizers, legal service providers and faith organizations. Bob Libal, executive director of the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, toured both detention facilities in 2012 and found detainees in crowded unsanitary cells without adequate medical care or edible food. Some detainees had been placed in solitary confinement for minor infractions.

A year has now passed and not one of the facilities has been closed. "The conditions haven't improved at all," Libal said. "They've actually gotten worse."

In the grand scheme of things, this is a small demand: not a reduction in deportations, just better treatment on the way out. (Read The New York Times' coverage of that original Obama promise, and you'll see officials spouting love-me-I'm-a-liberal lines: "Detention on a large scale must continue, he said, 'but it needs to be done thoughtfully and humanely.'") It's telling that the administration hasn't even managed that much.

[Via Grits for Breakfast.]