NIJC Responds to House Judiciary Hearing on Immigrant Detention Guidelines
Photo by Nevele Otseog via Flickr
In response to today’s hearing, presided over Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), on the new immigration detention guidelines issued last month, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center is calling on President Barack Obama, members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to renew their commitment to detention reform that espouses American values of human rights and fairness.
According to the New York Times, Representative Smith and members of the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, believe the United States is being too nice to the immigrants it detains, arguing that its policy guidelines “[go] beyond common sense to accommodate illegal immigrants and [treat] them better than citizens in federal custody.”
Political theater like Smith’s hearing makes the men and women in this broken system invisible,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “If we do not acknowledge that abuses are taking place, we take away the voices of the thousands who are experiencing injustices every day.”
NIJC welcomes DHS’s long-awaited release of the 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), the target of today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. However, the organization believes these new standards are far from sufficient to fix the broken and abusive system.
“They lack oversight provisions, carry no consequences for facilities that fail to comply, and remain far too punitive for the civil nature of the immigration detention system,” stated a NIJC press release.
To ensure that the need for humane immigration detention reform remains visible, NIJC today launched a community blog project called These Lives Matter (http://theselivesmatter.tumblr.com) to track reports of deaths and abuse in the system. The site will aggregate news stories, research, and litigation documenting human rights violations since the Obama administration announced a series of reforms in 2009. Advocates are invited to submit links to published articles, press releases, and reports at http://theselivesmatter.tumblr.com/submit.
“Upholding America’s commitment to justice will require legally enforceable standards, oversight and accountability, and sustainable laws and regulations, including application of the Prison Rape Elimination Act to immigration detention,” McCarthy stated in written testimony submitted for the record for the hearing.