Adding to the growing concern over immigrant detention in this country, a report released by Amnesty International last week blasts the current system. The report finds that tens of thousands of immigrants – both undocumented, legal residents and even some U.S. Citizens – have been held without access to due process and many have been left to “languish” in deplorable conditions.
- People in immigration custody don’t have the same guarantees as criminal detainees to challenge their detention before a court, make a phone call or obtain legal representation.
- Detainees can be transferred from one facility to another, sometimes in another state, with no notice given to their families or attorneys.
- Two-thirds of people in federal immigration custody are housed in state or county detention facilities, usually alongside criminal detainees, even though violations of immigration law are considered administrative, not criminal, and asylum seekers have committed no violation.
- Immigrants are subject to excessive use of restraints such as handcuffs, waist chains and leg restraints.
This is not news to many of us who have followed the shocking stories of immigrant deaths in detention, complaints of the horrible conditions and proof that the privatized prison system has made a fortune off of the exponential increase in the number of immigrants detainees.
As Keith Olbermann said during his “Still Bushed” segment this week, where he referred to immigrant detention centers as “Gitmo Jr.’s”:
The most startling fact about Amnesty‘s report, nobody at Immigration, nobody at the horrifically acronymed ICE, nobody hearing the details of this American Gulag is denying anything.
Dora Shriro, who was hired by the DHS head Janet Napolitano to oversee the immigrant detention system, recently said that she will be open to working with organizations such as Amnesty International to help improve the system. Shriro said:
I have learned that the best way to achieve change is to work closely with partners inside and outside of government, including vital organizations such as Amnesty International, which will issue a report raising concerns about immigration detention later today. I will carefully consider this important report.
Read the full Amnesty Internation report here.