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New measures to improve detention policies of undocumented immigrants doesn’t go far enough

LatinaLista — Finally, the Department of Homeland Security has a brain!


Notorious for treating all apprehended undocumented immigrants, children included, as hardened criminals locked away in prison-type facilities, DHS Secretary Napolitano and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton, announced today changes to how undocumented immigrants will be detained.

For starters, ICE will evaluate each person to determine their flight risk or danger they present. Those found to be nothing more than workers trying to make ends meet for their families may either be detained in former hotels, nursing homes or a number of converted facilities the government is looking at for the non-violent, non-criminal population.

Others may be candidates for Alternatives to Detention Program or ATD. This would involve attaching electronic monitoring devices to their bodies while letting them stay with their families.

And as for the most infamous detention facility in the nation — T. Don Hutto which housed children and their parents — effective immediately, ICE announced that it will only house women detainees.

While all these measures are good — including news that ICE will now implement a medical classification system to monitor special medical needs of some detainees — there is still one point that needs to be addressed realistically and humanely.

Even if the vast majority of parents who are apprehended are released back to their families equipped with an electronic monitoring device, how will these families survive?

We saw what happened in Postville, Iowa. Mothers who were released back to care for their families were forced to seek daily charity from the local churches to help feed and clothe their children.

At the time, church officials said it was very hard on the women to come and ask for help because they were accustomed to working and providing for their own families.

Also, when immigrants were detained they were often transported miles away from their families and not allowed contact to let their families know where they were being taken.

While these measures are a step in the right direction, it will quickly become obvious that more must be done to ensure that families stay in contact with their detained family members and don’t go hungry this winter.

The rule of law must be upheld but so too must basic human compassion not be lost in trying to placate those who think the undocumented are less than human.

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  • maryelizabeth
    October 6, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    This is by far the best Immigration news I have seen so far. It took many years to retrict are Immigration system to the point of dysfunction and now our current administration is taking baby steps to reform it. I do feel confident with President Obama that he will change the system. Obama always said he needed us to push things forward from the Grassroots and up and it looks like the hard work of advocates has and will pay off.

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