Sunday, May 18, 2008

ICE Plans Three Family Detention Centers

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of Homeland Security has asked for bids to build three "family detention centers." It already has two -- one on the east coast and another in Texas. The Texas facility, the T. Don Hutto Center, was the cause of a law suit by immigrant advocates over the substandard care given to children. ICE favors detention if there is a possibility of flight -- even that includes wives and children. As a consequence of the Texas suit, ICE had agreed to a number of changes -- like providing education. play time and toys for the children. These changes are to be factored into the new centers, but immigration advocates aren't happy. They see no need for them, since there are more appropriate ways to prevent flight -- halfway houses, electric ankle bracelets, intensive monitoring. The basic objection is that people who have not committed a crime -- entering the country without proper documentation is a civil offense -- are held for all practical purposes in jail. Yet some of the detainees, most children, had no say in crossing the border illegally; they were brought by their parents. (See LA Times article.)

Republicans had made some success in appealing to Hispanic voters. They were attracted by the GOP's position on abortion, tax breakers for small businesses, and support of the military. The GOP never attracted a majority of the Latino vote, but support was growing over the last few presidential elections -- especially as President George W. Bush was most inviting. The Sensenbrenner Bill and the Republican majorities in the Congress scuttled comprehensive immigration reform and jump on the nativist band wagon. In the 2006 congressional election Hispanic voter not only returned to the Democrats, but new voters came out of the shadows. John McCain's candidacy has not abandoned the Hispanic vote and has every intention of wooing it. He was the co-sponsor of comprehensive reform bill -- notwithstanding the hosility of Arizona GOP to the undocumented. Also his war record and patrotim appeals to Hispanics. The only problem is that he is running as a Republican. Hispanic hostility to the GOP has not waned. The now aroused Hispanic votes also will not be confined to a few issues favorable to a McCain canidadcy, but will judge him on poverty issues, education and discrimination. (See Reuters article.)

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