Editorial: Detainees Mistreatment

Mothers and children should stay free until their case is resolved
Editorial: Detainees Mistreatment
Los niños migrantes en los centros de detención de ICE enfrentan una situación que perjudica su salud.
Foto: Archivo


The policy of keeping in detention centers undocumented families – who arrived fleeing violence – is becoming untenable. The process violates the basic principles of human rights and is exposing many mothers to prison guard abuse, including rape.

The removal of detainees at any time of day or night by the staff of the Karnes County Residential Center, in Texas, to force sexual intercourse, was denounced a month ago by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). In a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and the local authorities, they also denounced that the women detainees were harassed, fondled and kissed by the center’s guards and staff, even in front of their children.

The solution is not in cold, bureaucratic statements, or in insisting on norms that are neither respected nor enforced within the centers.

First of all, these women and children should not be locked in those centers while an immigration judge determines whether they are under risk of persecution in their countries.

They should have the right to bail, unless it is established that there is risk of escape and a danger to society. It seems like the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) representatives have been ordered to oppose any bail. For example, it took the intervention of a lawyer to free a mother and her brain-cancer stricken child.

The whole process is contaminated, from the detainees treatment to the preliminary procedure to decide if the risk of prosecution is real. Democratic congressmen John Conyers and Zoe Lofgren recently protested these irregularities in a letter to President Obama.

The federal government seems only interested in hiding the problem by quickly deporting those families. In reality, the government has no business locking up mothers and children that do not represent a danger for anybody.

Even less, maintaining them in such conditions that authorities are unable to make sure that they will not be sexually assaulted.