Detaining women and children ‘is just plain wrong’

The opening of a new family immigration detention center has drawn criticism from advocates who argue it is inappropriate to detain women and their children who pose no threat to national security. The 50-acre facility, located about 80 miles from the southern border in a small Texas town called Dilley, will soon become the country’s largest family immigration detention center. It will first hold up to 480 people but will expand to a maximum capacity of 2,400 once construction nearby is finished in May. SEE ALSO: American Bar Association launches website to aid unaccompanied minors The new facility will be called the South Texas Family Residential Center. Women who cross the border illegally with their children will be housed there while their cases move through immigration courts. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited the new detention center on Monday. Johnson said the Dilley facility will serve as a way to let families know that they will be detained if they attempt to cross the border illegally. “This must be clear going forward: Our borders are not open to illegal migration,” he said. But immigration advocates, lawyers and faith leaders argue that the Obama administration’s policy of detaining women and their children “is just plain wrong.” “Not only is it cruel and inhumane, but it just doesn’t work,” Laura Lichter, a Denver-based immigration attorney, told VOXXI. “The government says it must detain and quickly deport children and their mothers to make an example of them and prevent others from trying to come. But detention and deportation won’t stop desperate mothers from seeking safety for themselves and their children.” The National Immigrant Justice Center referred to the policy as “misguided, inhumane, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.” The group also said the federal government should look for “humane alternatives to detention” that would cost no more than $17 per person per day. The projected daily cost of detention at the Dilley facility will be $296 per person. The New York Times reported the facility will be run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison company. Elanie Cintron, a Denver-based immigration attorney, also spoke out against the opening of the new detention center. In an interview with VOXXI, Cintron said she thinks it’s “atrocious” that the Obama administration continues to detain women and children instead of releasing them to family members already living in the U.S. while their cases are pending. She also said it makes “zero sense” to spend so much money to detain women and children when there are “plenty of alternatives to detention.” “What essentially is happening is they’re putting them in a prison-like environment,” Cintron said. “A lot of them have viable claims and are traumatized from what happened in their countries, so you exacerbate the trauma by placing them in these facilities.” The Obama administration tried to showcase a different side to detention on Monday by giving reporters a guided tour of the Dilley facility. Reporters were able to go inside the cabins where up to eight people will be housed. The cabins are furnished with bunk beds, cribs, couches and flat screen televisions. The new detention center also has playgrounds, classrooms for children to attend school and a place for people to get medical care. SEE ALSO: Jeh Johnson: Far fewer unaccompanied minors are crossing the border The Dilley facility will replace a temporary detention center located in Artesia, New Mexico. That facility, which could hold up to 700 people, is being shut down. It was set up in June in response to the wave of unaccompanied minors and adults with children crossing illegally into the U.S. The Artesia facility, however, has been highly criticized. In August, a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups sued the Obama administration, alleging that the facility had turned into a “deportation mill.” They argued detainees were being denied due process and were being put in fast-track deportation proceedings. Lichter and Cintron saw first-hand the conditions inside the Artesia facility as they worked on a case involving a young woman who fled Honduras with her 2-year-old son. The woman suffered through years of domestic violence and rape in her home country under the hands of her boyfriend who was a gang member. Lichter said many women and children inside the Artesia facility were being pushed through “a complex legal process at breakneck speed” and were not given adequate time to prove their claims for asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief. Meanwhile, Cintron recalled hearing from detainees who complained about the food making them sick and not having enough blankets to keep them warm. “We learned a lot of lessons in the six-month fight to shut down Artesia,” Lichter said. “But by opening another, larger detention facility, the administration has shown it hasn’t learned a single thing.”The post Detaining women and children ‘is just plain wrong’ appeared first on Voxxi.

Women and children sit in a holding cell at a U.S. Border Patrol processing center after being detained by agents near the U.S.-Mexico border on September 8, 2014 near McAllen, Texas. A new family immigration detention center is set to open in Dilley, Texas. It will hold up to 2,400 women and children. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The opening of a new family immigration detention center has drawn criticism from advocates who argue it is inappropriate to detain women and their children who pose no threat to national security.

The 50-acre facility, located about 80 miles from the southern border in a small Texas town called Dilley, will soon become the country’s largest family immigration detention center. It will first hold up to 480 people but will expand to a maximum capacity of 2,400 once construction nearby is finished in May.

SEE ALSO: American Bar Association launches website to aid unaccompanied minors

The new facility will be called the South Texas Family Residential Center. Women who cross the border illegally with their children will be housed there while their cases move through immigration courts.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited the new detention center on Monday. Johnson said the Dilley facility will serve as a way to let families know that they will be detained if they attempt to cross the border illegally.

“This must be clear going forward: Our borders are not open to illegal migration,” he said.

But immigration advocates, lawyers and faith leaders argue that the Obama administration’s policy of detaining women and their children “is just plain wrong.”

“Not only is it cruel and inhumane, but it just doesn’t work,” Laura Lichter, a Denver-based immigration attorney, told VOXXI. “The government says it must detain and quickly deport children and their mothers to make an example of them and prevent others from trying to come. But detention and deportation won’t stop desperate mothers from seeking safety for themselves and their children.”

The National Immigrant Justice Center referred to the policy as “misguided, inhumane, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.” The group also said the federal government should look for “humane alternatives to detention” that would cost no more than $17 per person per day.

The projected daily cost of detention at the Dilley facility will be $296 per person. The New York Times reported the facility will be run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison company.

Elanie Cintron, a Denver-based immigration attorney, also spoke out against the opening of the new detention center. In an interview with VOXXI, Cintron said she thinks it’s “atrocious” that the Obama administration continues to detain women and children instead of releasing them to family members already living in the U.S. while their cases are pending. She also said it makes “zero sense” to spend so much money to detain women and children when there are “plenty of alternatives to detention.”

“What essentially is happening is they’re putting them in a prison-like environment,” Cintron said. “A lot of them have viable claims and are traumatized from what happened in their countries, so you exacerbate the trauma by placing them in these facilities.”

The Obama administration tried to showcase a different side to detention on Monday by giving reporters a guided tour of the Dilley facility.

Reporters were able to go inside the cabins where up to eight people will be housed. The cabins are furnished with bunk beds, cribs, couches and flat screen televisions. The new detention center also has playgrounds, classrooms for children to attend school and a place for people to get medical care.

SEE ALSO: Jeh Johnson: Far fewer unaccompanied minors are crossing the border

The Dilley facility will replace a temporary detention center located in Artesia, New Mexico. That facility, which could hold up to 700 people, is being shut down. It was set up in June in response to the wave of unaccompanied minors and adults with children crossing illegally into the U.S.

The Artesia facility, however, has been highly criticized. In August, a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups sued the Obama administration, alleging that the facility had turned into a “deportation mill.” They argued detainees were being denied due process and were being put in fast-track deportation proceedings.

Lichter and Cintron saw first-hand the conditions inside the Artesia facility as they worked on a case involving a young woman who fled Honduras with her 2-year-old son. The woman suffered through years of domestic violence and rape in her home country under the hands of her boyfriend who was a gang member.

Lichter said many women and children inside the Artesia facility were being pushed through “a complex legal process at breakneck speed” and were not given adequate time to prove their claims for asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief. Meanwhile, Cintron recalled hearing from detainees who complained about the food making them sick and not having enough blankets to keep them warm.

“We learned a lot of lessons in the six-month fight to shut down Artesia,” Lichter said. “But by opening another, larger detention facility, the administration has shown it hasn’t learned a single thing.”

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