Immigration detention is no ‘holiday’

It is well established that immigrants in detention have long been at risk of sexual violence. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, formed pursuant to the bipartisan Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, called for “special interventions” to protect civil immigration detainees from abuse.

To its credit, this administration came in and admitted that the system was broken. A fundamental change was necessary to prevent suffering and death and to make immigration detention suitable for its civil population.

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We are still a long way from fixing all of the problems with our immigration detention system. Rep. Smith is correct that “[the] United States prides itself on treating people with the utmost respect and dignity.” That just makes it all the more difficult to understand why Republicans insist on addressing this issue in a disrespectful and undignified manner.

Throughout this Congress, opponents of sensible immigration reform that works for America’s economy and American families have argued for the deportation of 11 million immigrants living in our communities. But after Wednesday’s “Holiday on ICE” hearing, you can’t help but wonder if there aren’t some in Congress who feel it is not enough to deport 11 million people—they also want them to suffer and remain vulnerable to sexual assault and death.


Rep. Lofgren (D-Calif.) is the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

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