Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama Administration Stonewalls on New Rules at Detention Centers

Immigration advocates had already demonstrated that the treatment of detainees have often not met standards that the U.S. prides itself on affording to criminals in jails and prisons. Legal rights, the separation of parents from children, the detaining of children, the neglect of sick detainees, even the death of detainees have been documented. Tours of facilities have sporadically uncovered enough of these abuses that the federal courts are beginning to take notice. A report by the National Immigration Law Center draws evidence from Homeland Security's own documentation. (See Los Angeles Times article.)

Homeland Security has been pressed by immigrant advocates to publish new rules for inspection of detention centers that would correct the abuses. When the Bush and then the Obama administrations failed to move on the issue, a federal judge intervened and ordered Homeland Security to respond. They did, and they refused to publish new rules. This has disappointed immigration advocates who expected better of the Obama administration. Homeland Security seems to be stonewalling. They argue that news rules would be laborious and time-consuming and reform can be done administratively by providing decent and human treatment. But immigrant advocates argue that the system has a culture of abuse that needs to be strictly watched and regulated. Many centers, for example, are run by private contracts. There was a much publicized case in Conneticut, last year, in which a man complaining of a back pains was given a pain killer when his problem was cancer. The scandal was part of the complaint that led to demanding new inspection rules. (See New York Times article.)

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