After years of criticism by immigrant advocates and numerous scathing reports from national and international organizations, the Obama administration is making some changes to the immigration detention system. The changes were announced on Thursday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on its website.
One measure getting a positive reaction from advocates is the discontinuation of the practice of keeping families at the T. Don Hutto detention facility in Texas. But other changes to the system that houses more than 30,000 people on any given day are seen by some as more of a reorganization than an actual overhaul. They include the creation of a new supervisory office to “design and plan” the detention system; the appointment of detention managers to supervise the 23 biggest facilities in the country; and the establishment of an Office of Detention Oversight.
In addition, ICE says it will create two “advisory groups” with advocacy organizations, which will deal with “general policies and practices,” on the one hand, and detainee health care, on the other.
Advocates already expressed some misgivings about the changes, announced as “major reforms” by ICE.
“…(W)ithout independently enforceable standards, a reduction in beds, or basic due process before people are locked up, it is hard to see how the government’s proposed overhaul of the immigration detention system is anything other than a reorganization or renaming of what was in place before,” Vanita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, told The New York Times.