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New reports expose injustices at immigrant detention facilities

Last week, the "Expose and Close" campaign led by the non-profit Detention Watch Network called for the closure of 10 jails and prisons throughout the country that hold illegal immigrants. The reports conclude that the 10 facilities should be closed because they deny detainees basic rights, including medical care and due process of law.

Additionally, the reports concluded that not one of the 250 immigration detention centers operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) successfully protect the rights of immigrant detainees. A member of Congress who lent his support to the campaign said that it "shine[s] light on the terrible state of our immigration detention system in this country."

At one of the 10 worst detention centers, an immigrant detainee died in 2009, allegedly of a treatable heart condition. In addition to depriving detainees of basic rights and medical treatment, the reports allege that the 10 detention centers are also very remote which makes it hard for detainees to keep in touch with their immigration lawyers and family members.

A former detainee who was brought to the United States at 8-years-old on a visa for people seeking asylum knows the feeling. He ended up in Georgia's Stewart Detention Center -- one of the purported 10 worst facilities - after he ran into a technical problem with his immigration status.

The man spent 19 months at the Georgia detention center fighting deportation, far away from his wife and son, who are both U.S. citizens. Because the man had received two misdemeanors for marijuana possession he said he was considered "high risk" to society so bail was denied. He missed nearly two years of his son's life before being granted asylum.

The man said those detained on suspected immigration violations deserved to be treated as people, not like "animals in cages."

"Even as a detainee, you should still be treated with justice," he said.

Source: ABC News, "10 Immigration Detention Centers Called Worst in U.S.," Ted Hesson, Nov. 16, 2012

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