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The Darkest Side of ICE Detention Centers; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

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On any given day, there is an estimated 33,000 individuals under the detention authority of Immigration Customs Enforce (ICE).  Annually the number of detained immigrants totals 390,000.  Many of these detainees have suffered terrible persecution in their home countries and faced appalling hardships in coming  to the United States.  At minimum the Department of Homeland Security could ensure their safety and security in detention centers.  Unfortunately, they are failing to do so.

NPR recently noted that in the past five years, over 200 immigrants have filed complaints of sexual abuse while detained by ICE.  The NPR also noted a particular case of a man in which a Chicago officer failed to act after he was notified of the sexual abuse of a detained immigrant.  Detained immigrants that are being sexually abused are regularly requesting HIV tests and medical exams, but DHS has been slow to comply with  their requests.  The International Business Times highlighted other aspects brought to light by the Immigrant Justice Center and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights..  Given that detained immigrants are often in the same detention facilities as common criminals, they are often treated  as targets in the state controlled prison system.  As ICE increases its deportation efforts through a myriad of programs including Secure Communities, they are forced to contract with state and local authorities, in addition to private companies, to handle the increase in the detained immigrant population.  The Corrections Corporations of America, a private company that runs detention centers, was specifically signaled out as they have a "record of egregious human right violations including the death of an immigrant detainee and incidents of sexual abuse, even as its profits have grown in past years."


In addition, near the end of the year it appears that ICE has forgotten to focus on criminal aliens and instead is arresting any overstays or final orders in an attempt to meet their quota for the year.  Also ISAP officers who are contractors refuse to remove electronic gear on ankles and have burdensome reporting requirements that conflict with the ability of the person to hold a job.  All this appears to favor their own budget over the well-being of the nation and risk of flight issues.

The detention centers that are operated by ICE aren't much better.  In spite of a new federal law that attempts to increase the security of inmates in federal and state prisons, the DHS is actively seeking an exemption for their detention centers.

With immigrant detainees often transported to remote locations where they have both logistical and financial difficulties in receiving legal representation, this problem is only going to increase.  The United States has always prided itself as being a country that allows for humanitarian forms of relief.  The sexual abuse that these immigrants have faced in detention centers is an egregious violation of what this country stands for. 

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  1. Donald M. Miller's Avatar
    The accusations of sexual abuse are indeed deplorable and unacceptable. It is not mitigation, however, to say that this seems to occur throughout the US prison system and is disgraceful whether it involves illegals awaiting deportation or anyone else.
    Again, as always in these matters involving those here illegally, there is the question of individual choice. No immigrant has been "forced" or in any way coerced into coming here. No one can get into the US without first entering and passing through a "safe" country first. It is therefore to a large degree a matter of "country-shopping" that brings most of them here and not to, say, Greece or Italy or Mexico. Salvadorans, for example, have to travel the length of Guatemala and Mexico before they reach the US. Why are they not granted asylum in either of those countries? Certainly ethnically and culturally they are much more "at home" in Guadalajara than in Arlington, Virginia. What in the world can have been the thinking that brought 40,000 Somalis to Minnesota? Or 10,000 Montagnards to North Carolina? Were there no other free and more compatible countries in between where these people could have been settled? Same question with Australia: all those Afghan, etc., boat people sail right past Muslim Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, where they would have been far more compatible, and head for a barren island off the coast of Australia! Where is the logic, where are the rules and laws in these cases?
    Immigration is a choice with no guranteed favorable outcome. Do it the right way and maybe you'll make it, but if you do it illegally, the chances are you will lose and be sent home. Tough!
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