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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Detained: A look inside ICE's El Paso Processing Center

    Detained: A look inside ICE's El Paso Processing Center; watch video

    by Alejandro MartĂ*nez-Cabrera \ El Paso Times
    Posted: 11/03/2011 12:00:00 AM MDT

    It's not a jail, but behind several layers of wire fence surrounding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's El Paso Processing Center, where federal authorities hold about 500 people undergoing immigration proceedings, men and women walk around in color-coded jumpsuits.

    The exit gate opens with a buzz.

    The center shares many similarities with a prison. Immigration officials, though, stress that inside the center, detainees also play volleyball, receive dental care and enjoy movie screenings.

    ICE officials in El Paso invited reporters to tour the processing center Wednesday in response to recent complaints about insufficient medical treatment, something the agency denies.

    In the past, immigrants' rights advocates have condemned what they have called inhumane conditions at some federal and privately run detention centers across the United States. According to Detention Watch Network, a nonprofit organization critical of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system, those conditions have included inadequate health care, physical and sexual abuse, overcrowding and lack of access to medicine, food, water or consular services.

    Earlier this year the Las Cruces Regional Center for Border Rights, operated by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, identified what it considered similar problems of human-rights and due-process violations in a report about the privately run Otero County Processing Center at Chaparral, N.M.
    Local immigration advocates describe complaints they receive about the El Paso Processing Center as few and unexceptional.

    "We sometimes hear complaints about food and general conditions, but I think these are things you hear at every detention facility," said Iliana Holguin, executive director of the Diocese Migrant and Refugee Services, a legal aid clinic that visits the center to give legal workshops four times a week.

    Holguin expressed more concern about violations occurring at privately run facilities subcontracted by immigration authorities, such as Otero, and about detainees being sent to another location in Sierra Blanca while remodeling takes place at the El Paso center. The El Paso Processing Center is operated by ICE.

    The 15-acre center can hold up to 840 detainees, although it is housing around 490 while roofing and climate repairs are under way. Detainees are separated by gender and use different colored jumpsuits: Red is for serious felons, orange for offenders convicted for less-serious crimes and blue for non-criminals with immigration violations.

    ICE officials said reporters could not speak to detainees without their written consent.

    ICE assistant field officer Mark Howell, who acted as tour guide, said that the center holds detainees transferred from all over the U.S. and that most detainees in the El Paso center sport red or orange jumpsuits.

    The center has eight dormitories with access to board games, washers and dryers, vending machines and phones with direct lines to various consulates. Other buildings include a cafeteria, library and a recreation facility for sports and movie screenings. Immigration authorities underscored that detainees receive spiritual care and that special dietary needs are accommodated.

    Howell said the average length of stay in the center is 29 days, though some detainees who have gone through lengthy immigration court proceedings have stayed for three years.

    As to complaints about overlooked and tardy medical attention, immigration and health officials said their staff gives every detainee a full medical checkup upon arrival, responds to health problems within 24 hours of requests and ensures that detainees with medical problems leave the center with about 30 days' worth of medicine.

    Holguin, who worried about the treatment of transfer detainees to the Sierra Blanca facility she will visit next week, preferred immigration detention centers run by ICE because there are more safeguards and vigilance regarding treatment of detainees.

    Holguin said the larger concern for her was detaining many people at the center to begin with. She argued that for many of them there are alternatives to incarceration.

    She said parole-like options or electronic monitoring systems would be more cost-effective and appropriate measures for detainees without criminal records -- those wearing blue jumpsuits.

    "The problem with federal laws is that they require a lot of people be detained when they don't need to," she said. " I think the problem is the criminalization itself of immigrants."

    Alejandro MartĂ*nez-Cabrera can be reached at a.martinez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6129.

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_19252971
    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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    Senior Member AmericanTreeFarmer's Avatar
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    Remember the material witness against Gauman in the deNice homocide was able to cut off his bracelet and escape the country. Ankle bracelets realy just do not work sufficiently well.

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