Two California Democrats from the House of Representatives have called upon the Department of Homeland Security to put an end to their current practice of holding asylum-seeking families in prison-style detention centers while they are waiting for the chance to state their case in court.
San Jose representative Zoe Lofgren says she has visited Syrians who tried to escape the violence in their home country by fleeing to Jordan and that in comparison the conditions under which women and child immigrants in the United States are treated is appalling. Lofgren made her comments at a Washington news conference, where she was joined by representatives Luis Gutierrez and Lucille Roybal-Allard and former detainee Maria Rosa Lopez. All three representatives have been critical of federal immigration policy in the past.
Last summer the immigration system of the United States was overwhelmed by a surge in the number of undocumented immigrants from Central America. The US government decided to place many of these immigrants in mass detention centers as a short-term solution; a large number are still there. The Department of Homeland Security last week ordered a far-ranging review of detention centers with the aim of improving facilities; however, Gutierrez has dismissed the suggested changes as merely fixing “cosmetic issues” while ignoring the larger problem and stated that keeping children in jail is a form of violence. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen defended the facilities, however, calling them a “humane alternative for maintaining family unity”.