US asked to close immigration centers by OAS panel

Detention CenterThe Inter-American Human Rights Commission, which is a body of the Organization of American States (OAS), has asked the government of the United States to shut down detention centers that house undocumented immigrants. The request comes after commissioners paid a four-day visit to the border between the US and Mexico to assess what is happening to the families and children streaming out of Central America.

Migrant detention centers are currently being operated in Artesia in New Mexico, Karnes City in Texas and Leesport in Pennsylvania by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with an announcement recently made that another 2,400-bed center will soon be opening in Dilley in Texas. OAS rights panel vice-chairman Felipe Gonzalez says that the immigration policy in the United States is going backwards with the opening of such centers and that this is an inappropriate way to respond to the current humanitarian crisis.

“The detention of migrants should be the exception, not the rule,” Gonzalez notes. He is unhappy that this practice appears to have become the commonplace, default response in the United States and may become a fixed policy in the future.

Over 66,000 unaccompanied immigrant minors and a similar number of individuals within family groups have fled to the United States via Mexico over the course of the last year, with the great majority fleeing from gang violence and poverty in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.