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Will the U.S. government be forced to close its immigrant family detention centers?

For many American immigrants, the words of poet Emma Lazarus offer comfort and hope for a brighter and more prosperous future. Lazarus' poem, The New Colossus, includes the famous lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," is included in the museum at a location that has come to represent the ideals of our American democratic society—New York City's Statue of Liberty.

For many modern-day U.S. immigrants, their personal experiences of attempting to immigrate to the U.S. are in stark contrast to those experienced by Lazarus and others who traveled to and made the U.S. their new home during the late 1880s. While early immigrants to the U.S. were often welcomed and supported by early settlers, many of today's immigrants endure blatant discrimination and some, detention in remote camps.

While referred to by government officials as family detention centers, the women and children who are detailed at these facilities argue they are little more than prisons, complete with austere facades, high walls lined with barbed wire and guards. Detainees are forbid from leaving or move about freely and reports of unsanitary and unsafe living conditions are rampant as are claims that guards frequently refuse children medical care and access to education.

The three family detention centers are run by the U.S. government's Department of Homeland Security which has come under fire by many for its treatment of women and children who immigrate to the U.S. to escape violence in their home countries. In many cases, these immigrants risk their lives to make it to the U.S. with hopes of being reunited with family members who previously made similar perilous journeys.

The future of these facilities is in question after a federal judge recently called upon federal government officials to produce clear and convincing evidence to prove they aren't violating a 1997 settlement regarding bans on the detention of immigrant children.

Individuals who have family members who are attempting to or who have immigrated illegally to the U.S., can benefit from the advice and assistance of an immigration attorney. An attorney can provide strong legal advocacy with the end goal of reuniting and keeping families together in the U.S.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Immigrant detention centers criticized at Capitol Hill forum," Milly Hennessy-Fiske, July 28, 2015

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