Tuesday, September 22, 2009

**Last Families Leave Hutto**

Good news! Long before any of us expected, ICE has released (or deported) the last families from T. Don Hutto. The facility will now be filled with noncriminal immigrant women. Here's what the Associated Press had to say about it:

The last immigrant families have departed a disparaged former Texas prison that housed them while they awaited decisions in their immigration cases, officials said on Friday.

The families have been deported, paroled or released while they pursue asylum or another immigration status to remain in the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement. Less than two dozen children and adults remained at the T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor last week and the last four families left by Thursday.

But please keep in mind that the struggle to reform the detention system is not over. As the New York Times editorialized this weekend,

On Friday, her last day on the job, Ms. Schriro delivered a report on the detention system to Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary. We hope that it fully reflects the desperate reality: the brutal mistreatment; isolation, filth and deprivation; the shabby or nonexistent health care and the ill and injured detainees who languished and sometimes died, their suffering untreated.

Ms. Schriro’s successor will have a big job in fulfilling the administration’s promise of reform. The abuse and neglect must end. The system must also become much more discriminating about whom it holds — dangerous criminals, not the harmless and sick.

It will also have to rein in the private for-profit prisons that deliver brutal service on the cheap. And it will have to increase accountability and transparency. Ms. Napolitano can start by releasing Ms. Schriro’s report. Americans need to find out what happened in Basile, La., where detainees staged a hunger strike to protest detestable conditions, or downtown Los Angeles, where inmates filed a lawsuit to protest the squalor.

While Ms. Napolitano and her team promise to make detention a “truly civil” system, they show no interest in reforming the corrupt mechanisms that feed it. Instead, they are expanding the programs that have allowed corrupt local officials to round up thousands in unjust raids. The same people whom President Obama has promised a decent shot at citizenship remain easy prey to racial profiling, and are terrified of ending up in this truly uncivilized system. Mr. Obama and Ms. Napolitano must resolve that fundamental contradiction.

Hutto was just the beginning. If you were enraged by the imprisonment of children, that was only the tip of the iceberg. Keep checking this blog for updates on what comes next.