Sunday, February 04, 2007

Welcome to 'Ritmo'

Speaking of tent jails in South Texas, how the hell did I miss this? The Washington Post reported Friday that the feds have erected a massive 2,000 person tent city ringed with barbed wire to house immigrant detainees near Raymondville. I try to watch Texas incarceration trends pretty closely, but I hadn't seen this reported before now - perhaps because Willacy County isn't exactly a hotbed of media interest.

One immigration lawyer quipped that the facility should be called "Ritmo" - "like Gitmo, but it's in Raymondville." Reported the Post:
About 2,000 illegal immigrants, part of a record 26,500 held across the United States by federal authorities, will call the 10 giant tents home for weeks, months and perhaps years before they are removed from the United States and sent back to their home countries.

The $65 million tent city, built hastily last summer between a federal prison and a county jail, marks both the success and the limits of the government's new policy of holding captured non-Mexicans until they are sent home.
I've argued before that the current immigration detention boom would spur a massive wave of new prison building if current policies don't change. This is exactly the type of mass-internment scenario I feared. Even immigration officials say the current pace of incarceration is "not sustainable," said the Post, and the volume of detainees already has overstretched the government's ability to manage the new facilities:
An inspector general's report last month on a sampling of five U.S. immigration detention facilities found inhumane and unsafe conditions, including inadequate health care, the presence of vermin, limited access to clean underwear and undercooked poultry. Although ICE standards require that immigrants have access to phones and pro bono law offices, investigators found phones missing, not working or connected to non-working numbers.
In Raymondville, detainees were given no warm clothing during the recent cold snap, reported the Post, and lights inside the tents are on 24-7. To me this shows that draconian immigration policies cannot be enforced without our government engaging in behaviors that border on totalitarian and are frankly un-American. If it's so obviously unworkable, how can it be justified? Officials know a mass-incarceration policy can't be sustained, even admit it to reporters, but bluster forward declaring the effort a "success."

At what point does this short-sighted policy become just a doomed, repeat performance of the Japanese internments for which Ronald Reagan ultimately apologized? I'd say right ... about ... now. And since we're mentioning Reagan, IMO it's about time we revived and updated the Great Communicator's message to Gorbachev in Berlin to fit this current situation:

Mr. Bush, tear down America's immigrant prison camps.

Via the Texas Politics blog.

UPDATE
: A helpful reader points out that the Texas Observer covered this facility in October. Here's the story.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The difference is that the internment camps were for assimilated American citizens that contributed to society.
These detention camps are for unassimilable criminals, here illegally driving down wages for working people and bringing thier 3rd world disease, culture and language

Dirty 3rd said...

You know, I was gonna spit out some vitrol towards Mr. Anonymous's comment. I logged in. I read his message twice. But now I just don't have the heart. That ignorant retard probably lives a miserable life. He might as well have his hate.

Anonymous said...

The Observer caught this one months ago:

http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2320

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I agree, Dirty 3rd, it is awfully tiresome. But just to have said it, at the time people didn't think the Japanese were assimiliated. They were jailed because of fears they remained loyal to Hirohito. And anyone who thinks Mexican workers don't contribute to society should ask a farmer, homebuilder or cleaning service if that's true. And, of course, most research shows Mexican immigrants assimilate at roughly the same rate as other groups with the exception of seasonal ag workers who are only here part of the year.

Finally, of course, it's the employers illegally driving down wages, not the workers - I'm sure the workers would take higher wages if they were offered. best,

vicktoria lorraine no last name said...

>.> screw anonymous, we're shutting these things DOWN!

vicktoria lorraine, world peace alliance, part of the newly formed Coalition Against Immigrant Repression, because we CAIR about human beings, because we don't CAIR for the state. no human is illegal.

hasta la victoria siempre
vicktoria

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