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To that end, ICE Director John Morton announced in June 2010 that the agency had reached an agreement with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) — the largest contractor for ICE — to “soften” confinement at nine immigrant detention facilities, covering more than 7,100 beds.
Those facilities were to be designed to offer freer movement for detainees and be equipped with “hanging plants, flower baskets, new paint colors, different bedding and furniture.” In addition, detainees would be provided access to self-serve beverages, cooking, exercise and art classes, bingo, and continental breakfast on the weekends.
At the time of that deal, ICE spokesman Brian Hale said it was ICE’s long-term goal to provide similar types of reforms with the remainder of ICE’s contracted facilities, a 30,000-bed detention system, mostly owned by state and local governments.
Not surprisingly, ICE’s revised detainment standards have sparked a heavy mixture of both disbelief and outrage, given that many of the perks being provided are not even given to American citizen prisoners.
Moreover, the president of the AFGE Council 118/ICE — the union that represents 7,000 ICE agents — has called the changes “absolutely insane,” arguing that it makes for an unsafe environment given that local prosecutors, lacking resources, often just “dump criminal aliens into ICE custody.”
Republican Representative Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has called the new requirements a “hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants,” adding that the Obama administration “goes beyond common sense to accommodate illegal immigrants and treats them better than citizens in federal custody … it’s just part of a broader pattern made to reward lawbreakers.”
That broader pattern by the Obama administration to accommodate immigration lawbreakers was on display only weeks prior to the release of PBNSD 2011 when Andrew Lorenz-Strait was appointed by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano as ICE’s first “public advocate” for illegal aliens.
The position of a taxpayer-funded public advocate — the nation’s first — was created by the Obama administration to handle questions and complaints by illegal aliens over the various changes the DHS has made in the past year concerning the way immigration authorities determine which undocumented immigrants are deported.
Lorenz-Strait’s appointment was shortly followed by DHS plans to eliminate 287(g), a program that allows local police to be trained and deputized to enforce immigration law.
Instead, DHS plans to replace 287(g) with Secure Communities, a program that allows ICE agents to screen inmates in county jails to detect and deport illegal immigrants by checking their fingerprints against immigration databases.
However, Republican Representative Duncan Hunter has called it an uneven trade-off, saying, “This is, cutting loose one program that deals directly with enforcement, the way it should be, and bringing in another program that goes after repeat offenders.”
To be fair, even if illegal aliens are identified, their chances of actually being deported are becoming increasingly remote. Deportation cases filed by the Obama administration are on pace in 2012 to be a nearly 30,000-person drop in deportations from 2011. Moreover, the increase in the length of time it takes to deport an illegal immigrant has gone from 230 days in 2009 to 302 days in 2011, a 31 percent increase.
Of course, for an illegal alien — given ICE’s commitment to enhance the hospitality of its detention facilities — the extended time here will at least be a pleasant stay.
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