US detains more immigrants amidst rising accusations of rights violations

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A growing number of immigrants in the United States are being incarcerated in detention centers for increasingly extended periods of time, and without being afforded the legal protections given to criminals, according to a recent report issued by the American Immigration Council.

The report, entitled “The Landscape of Immigration Detention in the United States,” says the number of people imprisoned for violating U.S. immigration laws has increased “more than fivefold in the past two decades,” from an average daily detention population of less than 7,000 in 1994 to more than 44,000 in 2017.

The rise in immigration detention temporarily dipped in 2014, even though the administration of President Barack Obama increased efforts to deport immigrant criminal offenders and recent border crossers. The Migration Policy Institute attributed this temporary decline in part to improved economic conditions in Mexico and reduced post-recession job demand in the United States.

The report said that during the administration of President Donald Trump, the number of detentions has “steeply increased.” As of Oct. 20, the average daily population in detention had reached 44,631 people, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement testified to Congress. The report notes that the 2019 U.S. federal budget requests funding for 52,000 detention beds.

Claims of human rights violations

The increase in immigrant detentions has also been accompanied by a rise in claims of human rights violations, the report said.

​“There are growing reports of civil and human rights violations in detention, including substandard medical care, sexual and physical abuse, and exploitative labor practices. ICE acknowledged at least 185 deaths in detention between October 2003 and July 2018,” the report said.

“We’re talking about basic human rights and the bare minimum of legal protections that anyone in any detention should enjoy, the right to speedy trial, the right against self-incrimination, the right to a government appointed counsel, and a ban on cruel and unusual punishment,” said Kathryn Shepherd, the American Immigration Council’s national advocacy counsel. (VOA)

• Suspected illegal immigrants are being processed at the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., Aug. 9, 2012.

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