The incremental steps taken by the US government to reform the immigration detention system have been outmatched by the furious pace at which people have been forced through it in the last two years. With nearly 34,400 immigrants detained every night, the need for strong, binding regulations and comprehensive oversight has never been greater.
In response to advocacy from groups like Physicians for Human Rights, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano fixed a flaw in current immigration law by creating an exemption to the material support bar for health professionals who have provided medical assistance to wounded combatants as part of their ethical and moral responsibilities.
At the recent Republican debate, the presidential candidates were asked if waterboarding is torture. Their answers were shocking, in more ways than one. Even if Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman hadn’t blown the curve, everyone else would have failed the human rights test miserably.
The recent news that the US government deported nearly 400,000 immigrants in the past year has been met with an outcry by immigrants and advocates around the country who witness the destruction to families and communities caused by these deportations. But one group has been quietly cheering on the push to detain and deport more immigrants than ever before. The private corrections industry, led by Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group, has ramped up its lobbying effort at both the national and local levels to ensure that its detention facilities are used to detain more and more immigrants.
Sixty years after the creation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the US still protects more refugees than any other country. But the road to gaining asylum has become unnecessarily burdensome and prevents untold thousands of people from gaining asylum every year.