LatinaLista — In a report released this week, and cited in an earlier Latina Lista post, the researchers noted that family reunification was driving illegal immigration, along with, search for work.
Douglas Ramirez of Guatemala is shown being escorted into family court in Edinburg, Texas, Monday, Dec. 4, 2006. The boy and his two older sisters, ages 10 and 13, were picked up by border agents last week along a highway just north of the Rio Grande where they were abandoned by the smuggler who had brought them across the Mexican border to reunite them with their father in the U.S. for the holidays. Immigration officials in Texas say the annual holiday surge in children crossing the border illegally is on. (Source: AP Photo/KRGV TV)
What wasn’t highlighted at the time is how this family reunification is changing the profile of undocumented immigrants.
According to Prof. Wayne Cornelius, lead researcher on the report, when asked what the new profile of the undocumented immigrant is, he said, “Very diverse, with some ‘lone males’ of working age but many more whole families, women, and children.”
Professor Cornelius and his team credit the border enforcement for accelerating the “bottling” up of undocumented immigrants on this side of the border and the reason why women and children are deciding to come over.
This revelation brings to light how in the coming months when ICE gets even more aggressive in its tactics to root out the undocumented, women and children will also be increasingly caught up in the net of apprehensions.
If they are not from Mexico, they will find themselves “detained” in one of several detention facilities under the responsibility of the federal government’s Homeland Security department.
That’s why a bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate yesterday, titled The Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act (S. 3114) is so imperative that it be passed.
Some of the major media news organizations have already done reports on the deaths, suicides and medical neglect at these facilities and their impact on immigrant detainees. As they fill up more with women and children in the coming months, this piece of legislation is needed to ensure that these detention centers don’t become a sanitary version of a gulag.
The Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act:
Mandates improved detention conditions, prompt medical care, unobstructed access to legal counsel, limits on the use of solitary confinement, and special standards for families and for victims of persecution and torture.
Allows immigration judges to review the detention of asylum seekers and others consider releasing those who pose no risk to public safety.
Enhances alternatives to detention such as supervised release programs.
Requires the recording of interviews with detained asylum seekers and other quality assurance measures to ensure these individuals are not erroneously returned to countries where they fear persecution.
Establishes an Office of Detention Oversight within the Department of Homeland Security to audit and investigate detention facilities’ compliance with standards and to report to Congress.
Mandates the reporting and investigation of all deaths that occur in detention facilities
All these measures should be common sense policies. That this legislation has to be drafted means that the federal government is not complying with universal basic human rights and sees the detention of these individuals as the completion to an overzealous enforcement strategy.
But it doesn’t.
Responsibility for the welfare of these individuals doesn’t end until each of their cases is resolved.
If the Department of Homeland Security realized this, then maybe they wouldn’t be so eager to terrorize these communities.
In the end, it’s the detention and care of all these individuals that is costing a hefty price tag for the American public â€” one that far outweighs someone working without proper documentation but who is recycling their wages in the local economy.