International Report Faults U.S. Immigration Detention Centers

A report issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) examines the use of detention centers for immigration cases. The report criticized the operation of system that is overly penal in nature, resorting to prison-like conditions for administrative detentions.

The IACHR was prompted to investigate the detention systems by complaints human rights advocates, according to a New York Times story.

Findings of the Report

The Inter-American Commission found that:

  • In many if not the majority of cases, detention is a disproportionate measure and the alternatives to detention programs would be a more balanced means of serving the State's legitimate interest in ensuring compliance with immigration laws.
  • The rapid increase in the number of partnerships with local and state law enforcement for purposes of enforcing civil immigration laws.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has failed to develop an oversight and accountability system to ensure that these local partners do not enforce immigration law in a discriminatory manner by resorting to racial profiling and that their practices do not use the supposed investigation of crimes as a pretext to prosecute and detain undocumented migrants.

California Detention Centers

The report was based on research done in Texas and Arizona, but its findings appear to apply to the operation of centers throughout the U.S., including California. California facilities include:

  • James A. Musick Facility in Irvine
  • Theo Lacy Facility in Orange
  • Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster

Massive Increase in the Use of Detention

The report highlights ICE's civil immigration operations. Since 2002, with the creation of DHS and ICE, the federal government has taken a stricter enforcement approach to civil immigration violations.

In a 2003 memorandum to its field office directors, the Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO), a subsection of ICE, announced "Operation Endgame," a ten-year strategic plan to achieve a "100% removal rate."

Through a series of programs, including partnerships with state and local law enforcement, the number of those deported rose from 189,026 in FY2001 to 358,886 in FY2008.

ICE detention of noncitizens practically doubled, from approximately 209,000 in FY2001 to 378,582 in FY2008.

The Inter-American Commission is troubled by the fact that penal-type detention has become the rule, rather than the exception.

Help for Detainees

If you have friends or family currently detained, speaking with an experienced immigration attorney is a good place to start. Immigration law is very complex and an attorney can help answer your questions.

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