JUNE 11, 2010
In the Obama Administration’s effort to make the immigration detention system less penal and more humane, illegal immigrants will be offered art classes, bingo, continental breakfast and free unlimited phone and internet service in prison.
Immigration jails will also get makeovers to soften their look and make prisoners feel more comfortable. New paint, new bedding and hanging plants will decorate facilities and “fresh carrot sticks” will be offered daily. Security measures will also be drastically relaxed so that prisoners can move freely and visit with relatives 12 hours a day.
No word yet on how much the overhaul will cost U.S. taxpayers but the tab is sure to be hefty since at least nine detention facilities throughout the nation—including
It identifies more than two dozen changes that Obama promised immigration advocates last year to improve conditions for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens detained at centers throughout the U.S. Many detainees will also be allowed to wear their own clothing or non-penal attire, jail units will have managers so prisoners can report problems and lockdowns as well as nighttime curfews (lights out) will be eliminated.
ICE union leaders are outraged because the changes will jeopardize the safety of officers, guards and detainees in general. The president of the local ICE union in
A high-ranking ICE official in charge of the remodeling effort points out that the purpose of the detention centers isn’t to punish illegal immigrants but rather to detain them to effect their removal. “It’s not about punishing people for a crime they committed,” said Beth Gibson, ICE’s senior counselor to Assistant Secretary John Morton.
Last fall the Department of Homeland Security announced that, to assure the humane treatment of illegal immigrants in custody, it was creating an innovative system to house detainees in facilities like hotels and nursing homes rather than jails. The brilliant idea came from Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who has vowed to create alternatives to traditional detention of a population she claims poses no threat to the country.
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