There's fresh evidence -- not that any was needed -- that the national immigration system is broken and desperately needs a complete overhaul.
Exhibit A was a report last week filed not by a chronic critic of immigration but by Dora B. Schriro, a former adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who recently left to become New York City's correction commissioner. The 35-page report described a penal system that lacks standards for managing detainees, suffers from a lack of expertise and falls short of basic expectations.
Essentially, it painted a picture of a system to house detainees that is both dysfunctional and too costly. The system, which holds nearly 400,000 immigrants per year, violates some of the federal government's own standards for detention because it has simply grown too big.
To cope, the government has been forced to contract out some of its work to state and local prison systems. In these prisons, the detainees are considered a money-making business, and the costs, which can vary widely from location to location, reflect that. Last year, the total costs of detention amounted to $2 billion nationwide.
The Schriro report was critical of the facilities that the department itself uses to house immigrants. Among other failings, they are often located in the wrong places -- the Krome detention facility in Miami-Dade County being a prime example.
"The facilities should be placed nearby consulates, pro bono counsel . . . asylum offices, and 24-hour emergency medical care," the report said. Krome is located at the edge of the Everglades, close to none of these things.
As the immigrant population has grown, complaints over treatment have increased because the jailers have little or no training in dealing with immigration detainees, who, as Ms. Schriro's report pointed out, are not criminals in the conventional sense. "Relatively few [of these] detainees file grievances, fights are infrequent, and assaults on staff are even rarer," the report noted.
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