Lawmakers Push for Alternatives to Inhumane Detention Centers
Lawyers recently visited a detention center in Clint, TX, and what they reported back was subhuman treatment. Children as young as seven and eight -- many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears -- were caring for infants they had just met, the lawyers said to the NYT. Toddlers without diapers were relieving themselves in their pants, and teenage mothers wore clothes stained with breast milk. They also described a stench, since most have not been allowed to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, and they have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste, or soap. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced legislation to create a presumption in favor of the use of alternatives to detention for asylum seekers, migrant children and families, and other vulnerable groups. The Alternatives to Detention Act would direct these individuals toward alternatives to detention (ATD) programs, including community-based supervision and community support, as they await the outcome of their immigration cases. “Every day we learn more about the inhumane conditions in our nation’s immigrant detention centers and the deadly consequences of this Administration’s mass detention system,” said Cortez Masto. “We must take immediate action to safeguard immigrant and refugee families and other vulnerable individuals. This bill is an important first step toward a fairer, more humane immigration system.” ATD programs can cost as little as $4.50 per day, a fraction of the cost of traditional detention facilities, which in comparison, cost taxpayers more than $133 per day for adult detention and $319 per day for family detention. She was joined in introducing the legislation by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD) introduced the companion bill in the lower chamber earlier this year. More on the inhumane conditions here.