In a press release today, Human Rights Watch – an independent organization which strives to focus international attention on violations of human rights worldwide – released a stunning statement regarding the treatment of immigrant detainees in the United States. Along with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), Human Rights Watch illuminated the troubling realities faced by the approximately 300,000 individuals held in detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) each year.
According to the report, “The majority of immigration detainees are held by state and county jails under agreements with the federal agency. Women constitute roughly 10 percent of the immigration detention population. Immigration law violations are civil, not criminal, infractions; immigration detainees are held in administrative – not punitive – custody. The average stay in custody is 38 days, but some detainees are held for months and even years.”
The study goes on to reveal that health care provided to the detainees suffers from a severe lack of oversight, with many immigrants being denied care and medication and detained in unsanitary and overcrowded facilities with a shortage of qualified staff.
As the death rates in detention facilities across the United States “appear to be worsening” according to Cheryl Little, Executive Director of FIAC, many are crying out for the ICE to research and explore more humane alternatives for dealing with detained immigrants, including checking in by phone or in person.
With estimated costs of these alternative methods to custody significantly reducing the weight on taxpayers’ shoulders from $95 to $12 a day, one is left wondering why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is failing to actively pave the way for the more humane treatment of detained immigrants.
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