For those who want to see the border secured and immigration laws enforced, the news that the ICE has begun to revamp its detention facilities might be seen as good news. For those who think government spends money frivolously, it will be seen as confirmation. The Houston Chronicle reported today on ICE’s idea of detention facilities for border jumpers, and I have to say, it might be better than some hotels I’ve used on business travel:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are preparing to roll out a series of changes at several privately owned immigration detention centers, including relaxing some security measures for low-risk detainees and offering art classes, bingo and continental breakfast on the weekends.
The changes, detailed in an internal ICE e-mail obtained by the Houston Chronicle, were welcomed by immigrant advocates who have been waiting for the Obama administration to deliver on a promise made in August to overhaul the nation’s immigration detention system.
The 28 changes identified in the e-mail range from the superficial to the substantive. In addition to “softening the look of the facility” with hanging plants and offering fresh carrot sticks, ICE will allow for the “free movement” of low-risk detainees, expand visiting hours and provide unmonitored phone lines.
ICE officials said the changes are part of broader efforts to make the immigration detention system less penal and more humane.
But the plans are prompting protests by ICE’s union leaders, who say they will jeopardize the safety of agents, guards and detainees and increase the bottom line for taxpayers. Tre Rebstock, president for Local 3332, the ICE union in Houston, likened the changes to creating “an all-inclusive resort” for immigration detainees.
Continental breakfast? Bingo? Yes, that will act as a deterrent. Instead of trying to get jobs illegally in America, some border jumpers might just come across for a vacation getaway at Club ICE. It certainly beats the Super-8!
No rational American will argue for bread-and-water detention in a dungeon for anyone, including illegal immigrants. But let’s keep in mind that ICE is supposed to detain people who break our laws to enter the country, rather than pursue legal immigration through one of the most generous systems in the world. That doesn’t mean that we need to chain people to the wall, but it doesn’t mean we need to start catering to their every whim, literally in this case.
The union is exactly right in this case. “Softening” detention facilities puts the guards at more risk, and taxpayers who can’t afford their own stay at the Ritz shouldn’t foot the bill for people who break the law to have a weekend getaway at the ICE Resort and Casino.