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New Approach to Detention Centers For Undocumented Immigrants

March 26, 2012
Plain English Version

The federal government opened a new detention center for immigrants in Karnes County, Texas.

It is a less prison-like setting for detainees. For example, detainees will be free to move through the center 24 hours a day. Unarmed staff members will dress in polo shirts and khaki pants. They are called “resident advisers,” not guards.

The 608-bed center will house male detainees who are at minimal risk for flight. Inside, the center has the feel of a school, with dormitories of bunk beds, a gym, a library, computers with Internet access, cable television, a medical center, landscaped courtyards, an outdoor soccer pitch and courts for volleyball and basketball.

There are courtrooms for hearings by video conferencing with judges in San Antonio and Houston.

The Obama administration is trying to improve the system by improving conditions in centers located in the south and in areas with large populations of undocumented immigrants such as Chicago.

Last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revised their “detention standards” for the care and treatment of detainees.

Immigrants advocacy groups called the standards “an important step forward.”

Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said the standards are “a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.”

The New York Times


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