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New report underscores the deprivation of human rights in US immigrant detention facilities

LatinaLista — Amnesty International just released a new report on an issue that Latina Lista has been covering a lot lately — immigrant detention. The report, Jailed without Justice, underscores just how broken is the nation’s immigration system.

In the report, researchers made a several key discoveries. Among them are:

  • In the last decade the number of immigrants in detention has tripled from 10,000 in 1996 to over 30,000 in 2008, and this number is likely to increase even further in 2009.
  • The US detains asylum seekers, survivors of torture and human trafficking, lawful permanent residents and the parents of U.S. citizen children.
  • The vast majority of people in immigration detention – 84 percent – are unable to obtain the legal assistance necessary to present viable claims in an adversarial and complex court process.
  • The US contracts with approximately 350 state and county criminal jails to house approximately 67% of all immigrants in detention.
  • Individuals in detention find it very difficult to get timely – and at times any – treatment for their medical needs. 74 people have died while in immigration detention over the past five years.

As with all good research, the authors provide recommendations on how best to treat the disparaging care of immigrant detainees. High on the list of recommendations is for Congress to pass legislation making sure that detention is used as a last resort and not the first response. Also, and very important, is that the U.S. government adopts “enforceable human rights detention standards in all detention facilities that house immigration detainees.”
With Comprehensive Immigration Reform on the President’s agenda, the findings of this report most certainly need to be taken into consideration along with other measures to achieve true reform in not only how the nation implements immigration enforcement but how it cares for those immigrants who get caught up in the system.

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