Tuesday, March 11, 2008

DHS 1, Families 0

The March 3 New Yorker has a heartbreaking, horrifying story about the detention of immigrant families (unfortunately, not online). The story focuses on one of two such facilities, in Middleofnowhere, Texas; run by a private contractor with a spotty record, it's a bleak cheerless prison with no concession to the needs of the families incarcerated there--many of whom are asylum-seekers who have already established a 'well-founded fear of persecution' in their home countries. The situation is a multi-car pile-up of nativism, paranoia, bureaucratic ineptitude, obsessive secrecy, privatization gone wild, and a deep-seated contempt for civil liberties--in other words, the fundamentals of Republican ideology. One sentence kind of sums up how we got here:

The detention of immigrants is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in the country, and, with the support of the Bush Administration, it is becoming a lucrative business.
A lucrative business, it should be noted, for correctional corporations whose contracts were drying up because they did such a lousy job with our home-grown inmates.

It should also be noted that there is an alternative (other than 'catch-and-release') to keeping these folks in prison:
The report recommended a new alternative to detention known as the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program--which allows people awaiting disposition of their immigration cases to be released into the community, provided that they are closely tracked by means such as electronic monitoring bracelets, curfews, and regular contact with a caseworker. The government has since established pilot programs in twelve cities, and reports that more than ninety percent of the people enrolled in them showed up for their court dates.
But of course the DHS went for prison instead. Because nothing less would satisfy the Michelle Malkins of America.