Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

The treatment of immigrants held in detention centers

Approximately 300 immigrants that are detained are placed in solitary confinement every day across the United States, and often they are held in isolation for several days. Most of these detainees never have an attorney, do not have their cases reviewed by judges, and often are unable to have their families come to visit them.

The isolation seems particularly cruel when considering that many of these detainees have never been convicted of any crime, and usually have only been accused of civil charges. The claimed purpose of the detention centers is to guarantee an immigrants appearance at an administrative hearing, but the practice of isolating individuals ultimately results in punishment.

One California psychiatrist labels this practice as a "human rights abuse." The detainees are in many instances left alone for 22 to 23 hours per day, and they are kept in small windowless cells. The frequency of immigrants being segregated may be understated as detention centers have not always been forthcoming in the reporting of this information.

Because there are so many shortcuts in the conducting of deportation matters, immigrants are generally granted one chance before being deported. And when being held in detention centers, these immigrants can be subject to isolation and therefore are badly in need of the legal assistance of attorneys that understands the immigration system, and knowledgeable with the forms that will need to be filled out to prevent automatic deportation from occurring.

Hopefully, lawmakers will eventually put in place reforms that actually address the poor treatment that certain immigrants receive while in the United States.

Source: The New York Times, "Immigrants in Solitary," Editorial Board, April 1, 2013

Source: The New York Times, "Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks," by Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz, March 23, 2013

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