Last October, ICE released an unusually self-critical review of its immigrant detention system. The report criticized the system for its often poor treatment of the illegal immigrants it houses, notes the New Mexico Independent. The system takes in too many detainees, the report said, and treats them too much like prisoners, even though immigrant detention is a civil – not criminal – process. The report concluded that ICE should improve its facilities and services and create alternatives to detention for some non-criminal illegal immigrants. But a year later, not much has changed. Though ICE added an oversight office and a tool to help families and attorneys locate their relatives and clients, detainees say the detention system is still badly in need of repair.
The paper cites the example of Pedro Guzman, who has been in federal detention since September 2009. Guzman moved to the U.S. from Guatemala, illegally, with his mother when he was eight years old. He attended school in the U.S. and then successfully applied each year for temporary work visas. But three years ago, he was denied permanent residency. Then last year, when he was settled down in North Carolina with his wife and son, Guzman received a notice of deportation from the government. ICE officers showed up at the Guzman home and arrested him on Sept. 28, 2009, and he has been in federal detention ever since.