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Obama’s plan to improve jail conditions for immigrants stirs debate

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2012 | Criminal Defense

San Diego readers may be interested in the U.S. House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee hearing focusing on reforms made by the Obama administration for the benefit of immigrant detainees. Reports of injuries, deaths and sexual assault led to the administration’s action, which primarily targets the treatment of immigrants facing deportation and removal proceedings. Some of the detained individuals complained of health problems that did not receive proper medical care and others were apparently victims of sexual assaults while incarcerated.

This debate has split largely along party lines, with Republicans opposed to administration reforms and Democrats backing the efforts to improve detention facilities and conditions. The administration plans to improve medical care for detainees, increase access to clean drinking water and offer a better opportunity for jailed immigrants to have outdoor recreation. This is in addition to reducing sexual assault and abuse cases.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is said to have a poor record when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of detainees. More than 33,000 immigrants and people seeking asylum are being held in facilities all across the country. Although the Obama administration continues to set records in the number of annual deportations, those against the reforms for immigrant detainees argue that the administration is catering to immigrants instead of the American people, who will have to pay for the improved treatment in taxes.

Immigration issues like this one remain at the forefront of political debate in San Diego and across the country in this presidential election year. While it remains to be seen what effect the new regulations will have on the voting public, those immigrants incarcerated — many of whom have not been convicted of crimes — likely welcome the effort.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “‘Holiday on ICE’ hearings take aim at imprisoned immigrants,” Brian Bennett, March 28, 2012