This week’s disclosure of 10 previously unreported deaths at immigrant detention centers highlights the need for reform at those facilities, say immigrant rights groups and the government, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced deaths that it discovered during an in-depth review of agency records prompted by a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
In total, 104 immigrants have died at federal detention centers since 2003. “Medical care has been the chief concern,” says the ACLU’s Kevin Keenan. “There are no enforceable standards for medical care or anything else inside these facilities – there are guidelines but no way to enforce them.” While the Obama administration has announced plans to overhaul the 32,000-bed detention system that is spread out over 350 county jails, state prisons, and privately run facilities, it has rejected implementing legally enforceable standards at the centers. Instead, the government will begin moving noncriminal detainees to smaller, less prison-like facilities and ensure that medical care meets federal guidelines, the administration says. Obama also said he’ll place federal authorities at the country’s largest detention centers to oversee detainee care.