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Latest Hutto Protest Report, While Senate Republicans Call for More Immigrant Detention

Never in our Names has published an excellent description of the July protest at the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center, complete with a photo gallery on the protest. This latest protest also got coverage in the Daily Texan, as noted at the Real Cost of Prisons blog.

The Daily Texan has had a number of articles on Hutto, and let's not forget their excellent editorial on the need to close Hutto back in June. But despite the growing number of calls for closure, ICE shows no sign of closing it, and meanwhile, Senate Republicans are calling for a budget for 45,000 detention beds.

Are we looking at more Hutto-type prisons? This press release from Senator Kyl's office suggests a pretty strong interest in using detention as part of an overall strategy to put our country into the hands of Big Brother (in their brave new world, we'll all be registering with Homeland Security every time we take a job). This latest proposal:

 

  • Requires hiring of 14,000 new Border Patrol Agents to secure the borders.
  • Mandates construction of 700 miles of fence, 300 miles of vehicle barriers, 105 ground-based radars, and four unmanned aerial vehicles. Requires 45,000 detention beds.
  • Contains a “Catch and Return” provision requiring Homeland Security to detain illegal border crossers.
  • Requires implementing an entry/exit system at all U.S. ports of entry.
  • Makes illegal presence in the U.S. a misdemeanor offense.
  • Requires mandatory detention of criminal aliens until removal.
  • Makes gang members inadmissible and deportable.
  • Mandates an electronic employment verification system to end hiring of unlawful aliens.

 

All the italics are mine. I also changed the order of this list from his press release to point out that first this bill proposes making it a crime to be illegal and then calling for locking up "criminals." After all, right now, not all immigration violations are a criminal offense -- some, like overstaying your visa, are civil law violations (kind of like when someone breaks an anti-discrimination law --- you don't send in the SWAT team). But this is part of a bigger push to treat immigrants as if they are criminals, especially post-September 11th.

One of the arguments against Hutto right now is that the children and adults locked up there are still waiting for hearings to confirm their status, and they are not there because they've been convicted of a crime. Many reasonable people would argue against locking up children while you figure out their immigration status. But in the eyes of some, not only is it acceptable to lock children up at Hutto, but we should do it even more... and they're willing to pay good money to do it.

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