Sunday, March 1, 2009

Immigration Detention Reform Moves to Front Burner

Immigration Detention Reform Moves to Front Burner

New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Lovato
Posted: Feb 02, 2009

Editor’s Note: The recent death of an immigrant in a detention center, and a flurry of upcoming reports about conditions in detention center will likely make detention reform one of the first immigration issues the Obama administration will have to contend with writes NAM contributor Roberto Lovato.

Guantanamo Bay isn’t the only prison crisis that President Barack Obama will have to deal with. There’s another crisis growing - in the many immigration detention centers carpeting the interior of the country. Long ignored by policymakers because the combination of immigration and prison reform is politically lethal, calls for major restructuring of the immigration detention system may soon become unavoidable. The death of German immigrant Guido Newbrough in a Virginia detention center has again pushed the issue to the front burner, helped along by incessant calls for change from advocates like Gil Velazquez.

"I went through that system. I was there. I could have died too,” says Velazquez upon hearing of Newbrough’s death. Velazquez, a recently released immigrant detainee from Oaxaca, Mexico who now lives in Richmond, Virginia, is looking for action from Washington. "I wish I could speak to Mr. Obama. I would tell him 'They (immigration authorities) jail so many people and they don't know what they're doing. They have no right to let people die,'" said Velazquez.


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