Thursday, June 26, 2008

ICE responds to anti-family detention op-ed

In response to Barbara Hines' op-ed published in the Dallas Morning New opposing new proposed family detention centers, ICE field director Marc J. Moore wrote the following comment:

Re: "There's a better way – ICE should not be accepting bids to build new family detention centers, says Barbara Hines," last Monday Viewpoints.

Since its inception, the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center has been a safe and humane alternative to separating the families who enter the country illegally.

Many positive changes have been made. Families have access to high-quality medical, mental health and dental care 24 hours a day. Children attend school seven hours a day with state-certified teachers who provide a curriculum based on state standards. There are many recreational and social activities for all residents and few restrictions on movement throughout the facility.

Many of the conditions mentioned in the column have not existed for some time. The razor-wire fence shown in the picture accompanying the column was removed more than a year ago. ICE has taken a proactive approach to enhancing the facility since it opened. Many of the improvements were in place, under way or planned before the lawsuit referred to in the column was filed.

--Marc J. Moore, field office director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, San Antonio

Now take action!

Please take the time today, if possible, to write a letter to the Dallas Morning News stressing the inappropriate nature of family detention and Hutto. Letters can be sent using the site's online form, and should be 50-200 words in length. Letters can include the following points:

1) Detention of immigrant children and their families is inappropriate, costly, and inhumane. The experience at Hutto, a converted medium security prison operated by a private prison corporation where children as young as infants have been held with their parents, demonstrates that detention of families is a tragic response to the immigration issue. In addition, at an estimated cost of more than $200 a day per detainee at Hutto, the financial cost of such detention is unreasonably high, especially when more humane and cost-effective alternatives exist.

2) Congress has called on ICE to fund alternatives to family detention, saying that detention of immigrant children and their families should be the last alternative, not the first. ICE should be listening to the wishes of Congress and implementing alternatives to detention rather than soliciting new family detention centers. These alternative to detention programs are effective at ensuring that immigrants return to their immigration hearings and are much less costly than detention.

Thank you for your continued efforts to end family detention and close the T. Don Hutto detention center.