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Today’s hearing on persistent problems with providing basic medical care to immigration detainees raises questions about both the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ability to handle its responsibilities and our nation’s overall approach to immigration policy.
The hearing, held by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, will explore allegations of mismanagement and inadequate medical care in government-run detention facilities. As the Washington Post reported in May, internal government documents show a “massive crisis in detainee medical care” in the ICE-administered system. Many people have died or suffered as a result.
However, ICE’s mismanagement extends beyond the medical arena. As the recent raid of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, IA made clear, ICE and the Bush Administration have also failed to enforce labor laws and go after the bad apple employers who exploit our broken immigration system for profit. Case in point: following the Agriprocessors raid in Postville, hundreds of immigrant workers were charged with crimes and put on track for deportation, while their employer has gotten away without so much as a slap on the wrist. This despite the fact that the meatpacker has been accused of a variety of labor and other violations, from employing underage workers, to violating food safety requirements, to sexually abusing female employees.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Examined from any angle, we have a dysfunctional immigration system. As today’s hearings and the recent Agriprocessors raid make clear, our failed policies are now exacting a human toll that destroys hard-working families, disrupts local communities, and undermines cherished American values. The American people want and deserve an immigration policy that works, but the Bush Administration’s approach only makes a bad situation worse. We commend the House Immigration Subcommittee for holding today’s hearing to demand accountability from the federal government for its failures.”