Letter:: Immigration detention is not what it's made out to be

Published: Saturday, April 14 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

A hallway near the medical and dental clinics at a new civil detention facility for low-risk inmates in Karnes City, Texas, on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Federal officials are holding up the new facility as the centerpiece of an initiative to treat those facing immigration violation charges more humanely after lawsuits filed in past years.

Will Weissert, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

I want to thank Elizabeth Stuart for her report on the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on new immigration detention standards ("Obama's 'posh' jails for illegal immigrants anger GOP at Judiciary hearing," March 28). Articles like hers draw much-needed attention to the problems facing the immigration system that Congress refuses to fix.

Unfortunately, the article repeats many of the falsehoods used by anti-immigrant activists to suggest that immigration detention is some sort of vacation. There are over 250 jails across the country used to detain immigrants — many of whom are not "illegal" — and none of them are "posh." I toured the new detention facility in Texas, and while it is undoubtedly an improvement over most facilities, it does not "more closely resemble a school than a prison."

While detainees at Karnes will have some freedom of movement inside the facility and access to recreation and legal information, heavy metal doors and high walls topped with barbed wire ensure that they can't leave. It wasn't like any school I've ever seen. The new detention standards — which, incidentally, are not legally enforceable — were developed in response to deplorable conditions in detention facilities.

If Elton Gallegly's assertion that "no member is against the humane treatment of detainees" is in fact true, it is puzzling why he would mock all those who have died in detention by calling the hearing "Holiday on ICE."

Mike Corradini

Asylum Advocacy Associate Physicians for Human Rights

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