Immigration Law

Immigration Overhaul Will End Family Detentions at Controversial Center


The Obama administration plans to overhaul the much-criticized detention system for immigration violators so that detainees will be housed in more suitable facilities.

Critics say detainees have been mistreated and given substandard medical care in the detention centers. One Texas facility that housed children behind barbed wire, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, will no longer receive new families under the plan, the New York Times reports.

As part of the changes, a new Office of Detention Policy and Planning will review and redesign facilities, programs and standards, according to the story. It will be assisted by two advisory boards on detention policies and health care. Twenty-three detention managers will be appointed to oversee the largest detention centers and promptly fix any problems.

Vanita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who sued over conditions at the Hutto center, told the Times that ending family detention at Hutto “is welcome news and long overdue.” But Gupta criticized the White House’s refusal to depart from other Bush administration policies. The new administration, for example, has expanded a program to verify worker immigration status and has rejected legally binding standards for immigration detention.

“Without independently enforceable standards, a reduction in beds, or basic due process before people are locked up, it is hard to see how the government’s proposed overhaul of the immigration detention system is anything other than a reorganization or renaming of what was in place before,” Gupta said.

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