Congress Must Act To Raise Immigrant Detention Standards

It’s a cliché in Washington that the immigration system in this country is “broken

The New York Times ran a story and an editorial this week about the 62 immigrants who have died in detention centers since 2004 due to inadequate medical care. The Washington Post published a story two weeks ago similarly exposing the grossly deficient medical care in these centers. The Post story described the deplorable medical care that resulted in one man being forced to have surgery to remove his penis, to stop the spread of untreated cancer that developed while he was in detention.

The ACLU National Prison Project is currently in litigation with the San Diego Correctional Facility for providing inadequate health care and has sued the Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, Texas, for detaining innocent children, including toddlers, in prison-like conditions.  The children, who were not provided adequate schooling or recreation, were forced to live in small cells in which they could not have access to toys, food or privacy.

Congress has taken steps to correct these problems, but each time they move forward, they take two steps back.  For example, the Senate bill that failed yesterday had an amendment offered by Senator Lieberman (I-Conn.) agreed to unanimously -- that would have significantly raised standards of detention. But the same bill would have required mandatory detention of all undocumented immigrants in the United States.  So, the bill would have “raised standards