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.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:
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.
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.