Regardless of where you sit on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform, you’ve more than likely heard about the detention centers that have been popping up across the Southwestern U.S. over the past few years. These centers are intended to serve the purpose of housing undocumented immigrants who enter the country and have nowhere to go while their paperwork is being processed. According to the Los Angeles Times, though, the centers have filled up far more quickly than was expected, predominantly with mothers and their children or unaccompanied youth immigrants. As several news outlets have reported, pressure is beginning to mount within a number of social groups to demand the release of these individuals and the closing of the centers.
One of the primary problems with the detention centers, according to the various groups lobbying for their closure, is that they are unsuited to fit the growing demands of shelter and food for these immigrants. For example, the LA Times has indicated that most undocumented immigrants who are detained are brought to one of three centers, which are spread throughout the southwestern states near the U.S.-Mexico border. The same source has reported that there were at least 600 individual families being held as of this week. Many of the centers were designed to hold fewer families, and for less lengthy periods of time. According to multiple outlets, the unexpected volume of residents and length of stay has led to sub par care.
“Most detained immigrants are brought to one of three centers.”
According to the San Angelo Standard Times, the overcrowding and expense at these centers has caught the attention of not only several humans rights groups, but also of the federal government. Apparently, over 160 U.S. Representatives and Senators have issued a public statement calling for the immediate shutdown of the facilities in question. This federal action mirrors moves being made to do the same in California. In that state, the same source has reported, a federal judge has explained that housing immigrant children in secure facilities is actually in place of a law decided upon nearly two decades ago. Though the centers are still up and running as of June 9, 2015, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has responded to the press by stating that they are working on improving the living conditions for all immigrants housed there.
While it cannot be said with any certainty exactly what will come of these detention centers, it seems fair to assume that a change may be brewing. Immigration reform remains an extremely hot button topic as we move closer and closer to the 2016 presidential election, and candidates seem extremely split on their stances. In the meantime, President Barack Obama and his administration are continuing to attempt to uphold his executive action on reform from earlier in the year.