Menendez, Gillibrand and Kennedy Introduce Bills to Stop Immigrant Detainee Abuse

Friday, July 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on Thursday responded to a growing number of reports about the poor conditions of immigration detention centers that violate the Department of Homeland Security’s own rules. On Thursday they introduced the the “Protect Citizens from Unlawful Detention Act” and “Prevent Detainee Deaths and Abuse Act,” which would increase the government’s requirements to inform people arrested of their rights and that they’re treated humanely in detention. Earlier this year, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Fla.) introduced a similar bill in the House.

In recent months, reports from Amnesty International USA, the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, the National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the law firm of Holland & Knight have found, following exhaustive studies, that while the number of immigrants in detention has tripled from 1996, detainees often don’t get hearings to determine if their detention is warranted; detention conditions violate “basic human rights and notions of dignity”, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency in many cases doesn’t even follow its own rules governing detention centers and conditions.

The bills would require DHS to issue enforceable rules governing detention in 15 different areas, including access to medical care, telephones, the treatment of children and other particularly vulnerable populations, and the use of force against detainees. A Detention Commission would conduct investigations and report on compliance.

“Having met with dozens of detained immigrants across the United States, it is clear that the one consistency is the utter disregard for their humanity,” said Sarnata Reynolds, AIUSA’s policy and campaign director for refugee and migrant rights, in a statement released yesterday.  “These bills protect the dignity of those in the detention system by requiring that they be detained based on individual circumstances, not blanket policies that tear families apart without any consideration for the consequences.”



Comment posted July 31, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

The worst of the offenders are private prison contractors whose bottom line is anything but human rights. They purposely milk the system by indefinitely detaining migrant works and providing substandard medical care and nutrition. Their education and substance abuse programs are underfunded, the monies diverted to company coffers.

Comment posted August 1, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

The Elitists such as these UNITED STATES Senators are no more concerned about the ILLEGALS than they are of United States Citizens; JUST FOLLOW THE MONEY! Once again the Elitist Politicians from both “major” Political Parties and their Elitist Political Contributors consider United States citizens only as “units of labor” and the sooner we become a Third World Country the better for their “bottom line”! Our Elitist Politicians and their Elitist Political Contributors will not be happy until they transform the United States into a Third World Country for most of our citizens while furnishing the Chamber of Commerce and all their Elitist Special Interest Groups with their supply of “cheap labor”. The Elitist Politicians and their Elitist Contributors are “socializing benefits” to the ILLEGALS, camouflaged as welfare for United States Citizens, on the backs of United States citizens through our assets such as the Education System, Social Security, and Health Care not to mention our National Security while “privatizing” the profits for themselves!

Comment posted August 14, 2009 @ 9:00 am

Every time the United States chides China and other countries about Human Rights, one wonders what standard the US uses to distill such statements or where they garner the nerve or authority to say such things. In the last ten years, the US human rights record, especially toward foreigners and immigrants is only comparable the Spanish Inquisition.

The US immigration system is one of the most dreadful administrative organizations in the civilized world. It is a system that runs free of any regulation, without any legal leashes or censure to protect the subjects who go through it. The 1996 laws requiring deportations of any alien with a criminal record was a major miscarriage of jurisprudence that has caused more damage, suffering and gross violations of human rights than will probably ever be known. Some of the horrendous stories of persons incarcerated for years without legal assistance, shifted around from jail to jail, lost to the world and their family members, uncertain of future or help and without access to a judge or court sounds like Guantanamo all over again.

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