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Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ease Security Measures

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By Kamika Dunlap on June 15, 2010 1:58 PM

Is ICE cooling off?

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are offering art classes, bingo and continental breakfast on the weekends at several privately owned detention centers and many immigrant advocates are pleased, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The changes are a part of the Obama Administration's promise to overhaul the nation's immigration detention system and include relaxing some security measures for low-risk detainees. The goal is to make detention system less penal and more humane, officials said.

However, ICE's union leaders say the changes will jeopardize the safety of agents, guards and detainees and increase the bottom line for taxpayers.

Some of the changes are expected to be rolled out within the next 30 days. Other changes will be implemented during the next six months.

ICE officials say the goal of the improvements is to detain immigrants in the least restrictive manner possible while ensuring they leave the country if ordered to do so.

In general, deportation (or removal) occurs when an undocumented immigrant is found to have violated certain immigration or criminal laws, consequences being that the undocumented immigrant forfeits his or her right to remain in the U.S., and is usually barred from returning.

Although the question of whether constitutional rights apply to undocumented immigrants is far from simple, basic contitutional rights including the right to due process and a speedy public trial do apply to non-citizens charged with crimes other than violating immigration law. Immigration violations, however, result in adminstrative proceedings where the constitutional protections in our criminal justice system do not necessarily apply.  

So far, nine privately owned immigration detention centers around the country including California, Houston, Texas and Arizona will be implementing the changes by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. 

Here is a short list of some of the major changes:

  • Eliminating lockdowns and lights-out for low-risk detainees.
  • Allowing visitors to stay as long as they like in a 12-hour period.
  • Providing a unit manger so detainees have someone to report problems to other than the guard.
  • Allowing low-risk detainees to wear their own clothing or other non-penal attire.
  • Providing e-mail access and Internet-based free phone service.

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