Immigrant deaths in detention were a driving force behind pressuring the Obama administration to promise overhauling the sprawling, inhumane immigrant detention system last August. There is no accountability, however, when immigrants are mistreated or tortured by outsourced corporate contractors profiting from the booming detention industry.
“While the administration has made some modest steps forward, their strategy lacks one crucial element: accountability,” reports Carla Long for Human Rights at change.org.
“Take the case of Hiu Lui Ng. Hiu Lui Ng was a Chinese computer engineer detained in Rhode Island. Security cameras caught guards mocking him as he screamed, while they dragged him from his cell. He was suffering from undiagnosed cancer and a broken spine. He finally got care only through an appeal to a federal judge.
“Now Ng’s family is seeking to hold the government accountable for his mistreatment. But the government argues that it can’t be held liable because it contracted out for Ng’s detention.”
Long reports that ICE has also outsourced monitoring and evaluating at a cost of $31 million in 2009.
Approximately one million undocumented immigrants or refugees were detained over the past five years, highly profitable for Corrections Corporation of America that manages over 50% of all prison beds in privately contracted US prisons.
In earnings reports released at the end of 2009, “the nation’s two largest private prison operators cited ‘significant growth opportunities’ for detaining immigrants, driven largely by the Obama administration’s emphasis on detaining ‘criminal aliens,.” (The Business of Detention: Focus on “Criminal Aliens” Increases Demand for Private Immigrant Detention Business – According to New Profit Reports)
Joan Friedland, Immigration Policy Director for the National Immigration Law Center noted that as of March 22, 2009, “19,495 individuals were identified as undocumented through the Secure Communities program. Of these, only 1,436 were identified as ‘Level 1 criminals.’ (The Hill’s Congress Blog: Still Waiting for Change, Joan Friedland, October 29, 2009)
The rest were arrested for lesser crimes including minor traffic offenses like driving without a license according to Friedland.
Focusing on illegal aliens and outsourcing the detention industry has little resemblance to a democracy,
Learn more: See Alex DiBranco’s piece at Immigrant Rights blog, “Government Argues It Can’t Be Held Responsible for Detainee Abuse.