Tuesday, October 11, 2011
A report issued the other day highlights the US Government's failure to reform the immigration detention system. In 2009, the US Government committed to reforming the detention system; which places detained immigrants in jails and jail-like facilities across the country. This is problematic for immigrants as they must live amongst actual criminals, and adhere to very strict security sanctions in jail. It is also concerning for taxpayers, as the facilities are expected to cost more than 2 billion dollars in 2012 in order to house over 400,000 detained immigrants.
The current situation is not good for anyone. The prison conditions are innappropriate for asylum seekers, and American taxpayers are spending too much unnecessary money. Not only this, but US detention practices are not in compliance with International Law. Human Rights First's Ruthie Epstein reports on the current situation:
“The administration has plans to create more appropriate conditions for about 14 percent of their immigration detention beds, but the transformation away from the jail model still has a long way to go... Right now, the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers and other immigrants are still held in jails or jail-like facilities, where they wear prison uniforms and have limited if any real outdoor access.”
Reforming these costly and inhumane detention practices is clearly needed. However, it is difficult to know what steps to take. Is it beneficial to build separate facilities (that are not jails, but rather 'safe houses' of sorts) for Asylum seekers, or is this too costly as well? Or, should asylum seekers not be detained at all? But, where would they stay? Anybody else have any thoughts?