Contrary to expectations, the Obama administration has yet to deliver on its promises to overhaul the current detention system and the issue seems to have shifted to the back burner. But advocates and supporters, refusing to let the matter fall through the cracks, have renewed calls for reform.
Last Thursday, a coalition of groups that support immigration and detention reform delivered a comprehensive report, "Locked Up But Not Forgotten - Opening Access to Family and Community in the Immigration Detention System," to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) New York Field Office. The report has been sent to Assistant Secretary Morton to remind him of his promise to deliver detention reform. The report demonstrates how ICE has failed to meet its own detention standards through an examination of restrictions on family and community access at four New Jersey detention centers, two of which house New York immigrant detainees. Not only does the report make specific recommendations to improve family and community access for those in immigration detention, but it also calls on Congress to restore due process and provide immigrant detainees with legal counsel.
Given the alternatives to detention and considering the impact of detention on detainees as well as family members, here's hoping the Obama administration immediately implements some of the measures outlined in the report.
Arlene M. Roberts is the author of The Faces of Detention and Deportation: A Report on the Forced Repatriation of Immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean.