House Democrats demand end to immigrant detention

Expansion Planned at Adelanto Detention CenterDemocrats in the House of Representatives have again demanded that Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), put an end to the practice of family detention for immigrants after the policy was ruled against by a federal court last month.

136 House Democrats, including Illinois representative Luis Gutierrez and California representatives Zoe Lofgren and Lucille Roybal-Allard, wrote to Johnson in late May asking for the detention centers to be closed down. The detention of women and children immigrants was ruled against by Judge Dolly M Gee in July, who claimed it was a violation of a federal provision; now, 177 Democrats and Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, have again called for the DHS to close the centers.

“I am pleased that so many of my House colleagues, including our top leaders, are united in telling the president and secretary of Homeland Security that putting moms and kids in detention just does not comport with our values as Americans,” Gutierrez declared in a statement. “We have been making progress towards ending family detention all year, but the court ruling and the unity of Democrats on this matter make it clear that family detention is almost over. And good riddance.”

The letter tells Johnson that the DHS needs to take steps to bring its immigration policies and practices into line with the court ruling and that asylum seekers need to be treated with compassion rather than essentially being thrown into prison when they have done nothing wrong.