Behind the centers for immigrant detention

Letter to the Editor

Editor,

A bed quota of 34,000 must be maintained daily for immigrants in detention centers across the United States, according the congressional appropriations law. There are a total of 250 county jails, privately-run contract facilities, and federal facilities, 80 percent of which owned by two private prison corporation agencies: The Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group. This policy stemmed from the terrorist attacks on 9/11, leading the government to enforce immigration laws already in place and create a sense of security for U.S. citizens.  

After extensive research, we have concluded that this policy is unjust due to harsh living conditions, lack of information about cases for those being detained, and the inhumane treatment involved in the operations of these centers. This policy is also a problem for taxpayers, costing them over $2 billion every year, since it was passed in 2009.  

Detainees who are classified as “low-risk” (non-dangerous and have no criminal record) and “high-risk” (severely dangerous and have an extensive criminal record) are being held with the same standards. Immigration detention centers are not prisons, yet there are more similarities than there are differences between the two. We understand that coming over to this country illegally is a crime, but it does not suffice the treatment these individuals undergo or the emotional and mental harm that families endure in the process.

Alternatives to Detention (ATD), is a program already in place that allows low-risk detainees to be free from a cell in a detention center, and instead be placed on house arrest or electronically supervised. We suggest programs like this and other alternatives be taken into consideration, that the quota be lowered, or that it be completely eliminated. Instead of focusing on an opportunity for profit, these corporations should be concerned with how much more harmful this bill is than good.

Megan Jones

Savannah Jost

Paloma Presley

San Marcos

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666