As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expands its outsourcing of detention across the nation, potential contractors are being forewarned to abide by the Obama administration’s kinder, gentler approach to detaining illegal aliens.
DHS Immigration & Customs Enforcement most recently embarked upon the outsourcing plan in Georgia, where it will continue to push the administration’s reform agenda to create a civil, rather than penal, processing system.
According to contracting documents that WND located through routine database research, the Georgia outsourcing endeavor requires providers to offer detainees, among other perks, “abundant natural light throughout the facility [and] ample indoor and outdoor recreation that allows for vigorous aerobic exercise with extended hours of availability.”
ICE recently issued a Request for Information from potential contractors in which the agency intends to assign detention responsibilities to private sector entities that will build new facilities, renovate existing structures or leverage a combination of the two.
The agency acknowledged that some detainees may have a criminal history or suffer from mental illness. In those cases, it would require the contractor to separate such persons into a medium- or maximum-security area.
Other detainees, however, would be accommodated with various services and conditions, such as:
- Four hours per day of outdoor recreation and ideally a minimum of two hours recreation in a gymnasium during inclement weather.
- Private showers and restrooms (where practicable).
- Cafeteria-style meal service.
- Non-institutional detainee clothing.
- “Contact visitation,” including special arrangements for visiting families, with extended hours including nights and weekends.
- Private areas for attorney-client visits, with video teleconferencing capabilities.
- Noise control.
- Enhanced, but controlled, freedom of movement.
- Enhanced law library and legal resources.
- “Enhanced programming,” including religious services and social programs and dedicated space for religious services.
ICE tentatively is looking for space in Georgia to hold about 2,000 male detainees – up to 600 who would be categorized a low-security, 900 as medium-security and 400 designated as a high-security population. Capacity for an additional 100 detainees would be divided between administrative detention and mental health units.
The projects come at a time when the push for immigration reform – in varying forms – is heating up both on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
Indeed, in the House Committee on the Judiciary’s first hearing of the 113th Congress, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., emphasized that the American people and members of Congress “have a lot of questions about how our legal immigration system should work.”
“They have a lot of questions about why our immigration laws have not always been sufficiently enforced.”
Goodlatte pointed out that while reform could greatly affect U.S. citizens, legal residents, and illegal aliens alike, he affirmed the principle that “America is a nation of immigrants. … But we are also a nation of laws.”
In response to that hearing, the immigrant-advocacy group Detention Watch Network reiterated its call to repeal mandatory detention laws.
Emily Tucker, DWN director of policy and advocacy, said in a statement: “While we are excited about the momentum to finally create a path to citizenship for millions of people, immigration reform must include the reform of our wasteful and inhumane detention and deportation system.
“Neither the White House’s nor Senate’s plans respond to years of community outrage about border and interior enforcement programs that have separated families, violated due process rights, and led to serious human rights abuses,” she said.
The DWN statement indicated that the committee reportedly is due to introduced a draft immigration-reform bill this week.
The Heritage Foundation says, “So far there is no actual bill – just a set of “principles” for the promised legislation.”
Jessica Zuckerman, research associate at Heritage, said in an issue brief, “These principles, however, do not adequately address the tough issues that have to be tackled to provide lasting and beneficial fixes that strengthen the U.S. economy, security, and civil society.”
Similarly, she added that the White House recently announced its own set of immigration reform principles, while promising to introduce an “even more comprehensive bill if Congress does not move fast enough.”
Zuckerman warned, however, that “if both initiatives do nothing more than reintroduce confusing, complicated, and contentious bills similar to the failed ‘comprehensive’ bill of 2007, then our nation will be poorly served by these latest efforts.”