New Report of Immigrant Neglect

ICE has mistreated suspected undocumented immigrants in several detention centers nationwide, according to a government report released yesterday. The Washington Post reports that ICE and the private contractors to whom it outsources some of its detainees "denied timely medical treatment to some of the immigrants, failed to disclose and justify disciplinary actions against them, and improperly limited access to relatives, lawyers and immigration authorities".

This news doesn't shock the immigrant community, particularly since 09.11.01 and the Special Registration of Muslim- and/or Arab-type men. Many of those men found themselves detained without cause or the one phone call afforded others seen as criminals. And insiders of the immigration system have long dealt with indefinite detentions while a backed-up system crawled towards examining cases.

Critics of the new report claim the government has presented a watered-down assessment, leaving out reports of more severe abuses, "which they said included physical beatings, medical neglect, food shortages and mixing of illegal immigrants in administrative custody with criminals." Aside from the clear-cut abuse, someone who has allegedly overstayed a visa should not share a cell with a convicted murderer. This is why we have prisons of varying levels of security.

Some claim that those not here legally do not deserve the protection of our laws -- despite our founders' assertions that The Constitution applies to all people. (Those old, white men of course may have had a different concept of "people" than we have today.) But we should not punish people with our laws if we do not allow them the protections those laws provide. That's not how our system was intended to function.

Regardless, ICE's attempts at raising the detention rate of undocumented people add strain to a system that, as this report indicates, can't support its current burden -- despite DHS Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers's protests and only partial acceptance of the report. But the U.N. plans to investigate.

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