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Saturday, March 25, 2023


Immigration reform falls flat, families suffer

ICE - Tamor Khan - Cartoon

Tamor Khan/The Cougar

Immigration family detention centers were hit with an extreme makeover when new reforms were announced to lubricate the already dry, inhumane system that not only wastes taxpayer dollars but fails to reflect American values.

The reforms aimed to “ensure its family residential centers continue to serve as safe and humane facilities for families pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings,” said Sarah R. Saldaña, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Such efforts shine a light on the necessity of guaranteeing that all individuals in custody are treated in a safe, secure and humane manner.

One motion will create a committee consisting of experts of detention management, public health, children and family services and mental health.

Among the six proposed reforms, this one has the most potential to make a lasting impact.

But Saldaña’s decision to give “a senior ICE official … the responsibility to coordinate and review family residential facility policies” lacks this potential.

One person alone cannot babysit such an extensive system. That’s hundreds of thousands of people and they want one person to sweep the floor.

ICE is also going to talk with stakeholders about family and residential centers over the next several months “to listen and discuss their concerns” surrounding the centers.

Stakeholders’ opinions are important, whoever they are. But these so-called ‘engagements’ ignore the most important voice: that of the detainees.

The number of persons detained annually has increased drastically over the past years.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Center for Migration Studies report that approximately 440,557 persons were detained in 2013 compared to 85,000 in 1995.

“More persons pass through the U.S. immigrant detention system each year than through federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities,” according to a joint plan by the two organizations.

The plan acknowledges that “the U.S. immigrant detention system is neither humane nor, in its current form, necessary.”

By advocating “for broad immigration reform legislation, including humane and effective enforcement policies” they hope to transform the U.S. immigrant detention system, if not eliminate it.

There are many reasons the detention system is broken. The denial of liberty toward those awaiting trial forces defendants to confront economical, physical and psychological issues.

Family detention centers divide families and prevent detainees from engaging with society, diminishing social skills and constraining a swift integration.

The conditions many face while detained in a detention center are brutal, and holding cells are cold, dull and small.

Such circumstances often invite hunger strikes a plea for improved treatment.

Sexual abuse, harassment, and deficiencies in reporting on and recording incidents of sexual misconduct are characterized by the report as some of the conditions that reflect an abusive environment.

Even members of the LGBT community are struck with discrimination, including, but not limited to, violence and verbal abuse.

Rather than locking up detainees, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security need to let their agenda marinate in different solutions.  Using technology such as ankle bracelets or GPS tracking devices are just some ideas that would allow detainees to savor seasoned freedom.

The family detention center system is due for a strategy that will solve, not adorn.

It is simply the sign of scrambling to fix a terminally broken system.

Opinion columnist Sebastian Troitiño is a finance and marketing junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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