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Immigration detention centers: renewed criticism after new fiasco

Immigration detention centers have been scrutinized for some time. At best, they are a prison for people who have committed a non-violent crime (entering the country illegally); and at worst, they detain U.S. citizens based on discriminatory factors, treat people terribly and, in general, obstruct human rights. Immigration detention centers are back in the news this week, after a report detailed the startling tactic of adult detention centers holding minors for more than three days (which is supposed to be the legal limit for placing a minor in an adult detention center).

According to the report, roughly 1,400 undocumented minors were left in adult detention centers for more than 72 hours during a four-year period from 2008 to 2012. That means nearly once every day during that window of time, U.S. immigration detention centers were breaking the law -- and this is specific just to this rule.

One of the main criticisms of immigration detention centers is that they do not inform their captives of their rights. Undocumented people held in these centers can seek legal help, and they have basic rights that are supported by our country's laws. Just because someone entered the country illegally does not mean these centers can subject them to any treatment they want.

For example, two kids under the age of 10 were held at adult detention centers for more than three days during the 2008-2012 window. Even worse, 15 minors were held for a shocking six months in these facilities.

What kind of treatment were these minors subjected too while they were in the facilities? Were they informed of their rights? They are supposed to be transferred to a more supportive environment following the three-day adult detention center limit -- at which point, they have better access to legal help.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Minors detained at adult immigration facilities, report says," Brian Bennett, June 3, 2013

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