Not Good News: phaseout does not apply to "immigrant detention centers"
What, however, is not good news is that the DOJ's directive has a massive, a truly giant, loophole.
The announcement does not apply to the Department for the Protection of the Fatherland because it and the DOJ are separate departments.
And it is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which I think is a remarkably appropriate acronym and which is part of the Department for the Protection of the Fatherland, which oversees the nation's network of immigrant detention centers. Which means, then, that those centers are beyond the reach of the DOJ.
But is is those centers that along with the war on drugs are responsible for the dramatic growth of the private prison industry in the United States, immigrant detention centers - prisons because hey, if you can't leave, it's prison no matter what they call it - detention centers that are holding immigrants, migrants, refugees; families, parents, children, babies; people who for the most part have committed no crime except, perhaps, crossing the border without all the required paperwork; people too often held in deplorable conditions.
In fact, the agency has 46 privately-run, profit-seeking, immigrant detention centers accounting for more than 70 percent of all ICE beds. That was an increase from 62 percent just last year and from 49 percent in 2009.
Imprisoning immigrants has become so central to the profits of the private prison companies involved that they have directly lobbied for harsher immigration policies involving more prison for more immigrants, including one of the more shocking requirements I bet you have never heard of: the congressional immigrant detention quota, under which ICE is required to hold an average 34,000 people in detention every day, need or cause apparently not being deciding factors. Just numbers.
Just as in the federal system, the problems with and conditions at these centers were no secret, having been reported on numerous times and having lead to repeated hunger strikes. But unlike in the federal system, the Department for the Protection of the Fatherland has made no move to improve or change things, despite promises to do so.
Then again, why should it? The people affected are, after all, just a bunch of foreigners.
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