Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Obama's Vision of "Truly Civil" Immigrant Prison Reform: More Prisoners, More Prisons"

Here's the link to the story Lovato refers to from the NY Times


An article in today's New York Times provides an outline of the Obama
Administration's vision of immigrant detention reform: more prisoners,
more prisons-but a "truly civil system" . That there will be no
fundamental changes to the massively corrupt and widely criticized
detention system can be seen in these statements from the story:

- John Morton,head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
"Detention on a large scale must continue, he said, "but it needs to
be done thoughtfully and humanely."

- "So far, the new administration has embraced many of those policies,
expanding a program to verify worker immigration status that has been
widely criticized, bolstering partnerships between federal immigration
agents and local police departments, and rejecting a petition for
legally binding rules on conditions in immigration detention."

- "Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, said last
week that she expected the number of detainees to stay the same or
grow slightly."

- "Asked if his vision could include building new civil detention
centers, he (Morton) said yes.

As can be seen from these statements coming from Administration
officials, President Obama appears willing to maintain and even expand
a system of immigrant prisons that civil and human rights
organizations across the country and around the world have criticized
for the subhuman conditions and deaths found in that system.

The Obama Administration's talk of "truly civil" immigrant prisons and
of imprisoning immigrants more "thoughtfully and humanely" are
reminiscent of similar talk by the Bush Administration. After civil
and human rights groups criticized the Bush Administration for the the
terror fostered by and the illegality of its raids, Bush's Homeland
Security officials began talking about how they would "humanize"
immigration raids. A recent report by the Cardozo School of Law
documented how the widespread racial profiling and other violations
have continued even after the announcement to "humanize" the raids,
raids -and violations-that continue under the Obama Administration.

Many immigrant prison reform advocates believe that failure to
fundamentally alter the "crimmigration" laws that have caused the
immigrant prison population to mushroom over the past several years,
means that such announcements by the Obama Administration will ring as
hollow as President Obama's talk of "racial profiling" did after his
administration quietly announced an expansion of 287(G),one of the
largest racial profiling programs in the history of federal

It is doubtful that any but those desperate to either secure favor
from or provide political cover to the Obama Administration will lend
their public approval to what many consider an insulting attempt to
put a cosmetic cover on the beaten, bruised and sometimes dead body of
the rotting detention system. It is also doubtful that pronouncements
of a "truly civil"immigrant prison system will do anything to stop the
increased attacks on Janet Napolitano -and Obama- from their allies in
the immigrant rights community. If anything, the pronouncements may
intensify that anger by virtue of the insult to their intelligence and
moral sensibilities many advocates may feel such a cosmetic politic of
prison reform represents.

No comments:

Post a Comment