Undocumented people should be treated with respect

Detainees are moved Tuesday through the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma, Wash. The center, recently renamed, holds people facing deportation proceedings. (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times/TNS)

I have never given the immigration detention centers much thought to do deep research into what goes on at these facilities. 

That is, until I read an article from CNN about two doctors who had spoken about their experiences being unexpectedly detained in a privately-run immigration detention center in rural Louisiana for more than two months. 

The two doctors grew up in Cuba, studied to become doctors and had taken a hippocratic oath to do no harm. While being detained, they had pleaded for asylum and watched as other detainees were receiving poor medical care. 

These doctors had stated their allegations in court filings and in an interview with CNN of the false diagnosis, improper use of quarantines and the conditions they were forced into, which included mold on the walls. 

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Bryan Cox, ICE detainees throughout the U.S. can utilize physicians, nurses, mental health care providers, dental care and 24-hour emergency care. He continued to state that the ICE agency spends $260 million yearly on healthcare services for the detainees. 

If that is the case, how many more detainees have to speak out to bring the actual story to light so that it can be heard? I cannot imagine being in the shoes of those who have to go through this on a daily basis. The fact is that accomplishing this is made to be increasingly difficult because in some detention centers, visitors are not allowed. 

Imagine staying there for more than two months and needing medical treatment but being unable to receive any help quickly because there are thousands of others also being detained, not to mention the allegations of poor medical care on top of it all.

According to Freedom For Immigrants, some immigration detention centers are capable of holding someone in custody for up to two months, one year and can even span to more than four years.

Ever wonder about the amount of money that comes from your paycheck to keep an undocumented person in a privately-run immigrant prison or immigrant jail? 

Taxpayer dollars to detain a person for one day in a privately-run prison amount to around $149.58, and for a person to be detained in an immigrant jail, costs about $98.27. According to federal data, over 60 percent of immigrant detainees are being held in a privately-run immigrant prison. 

The GEO Group, the largest private prison company, is estimated to detain about 15,000 people in immigration detention centers per day. 


I would imagine the process to be faster to deport undocumented people, but in countries such as Laos, deportees have to be accepted back into the country. 

However, as they await to be deported into a country they remember little to nothing about, we should treat them with respect, provide high-quality medical care and allowed them to freely enjoy what is possible in their last few days, months or years in the U.S. until the time comes for them to return to their country of origin.

I do believe that not all undocumented people are criminals. Many have done their share to benefit the U.S. by paying taxes, watching over your children, harvesting fruits and vegetables for you to conveniently buy at grocery stores. However, we never hear about the struggles that these people are facing on a daily basis in our own country. 

There is a Netflix series called “Living Undocumented,” which tells stories of undocumented people being detained and deported, and often times results in the separation of family members and returning them away from the only country that they know of.

The Netflix series had mentioned that President Donald Trump had asked ICE to pursue a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. This means that even people who are not criminals would be a target to be detained and deported. 

Luis and Kenia are a couple from Honduras in the Netflix series and migrated to the U.S. to protect themselves from threats that they were facing in their home country. 

Kenia had been detained while pregnant in an immigration detention center in Kansas City, Missouri, for six weeks before getting deported with her newborn child back to Honduras. 

Their case was in the hands of two attorneys who had fought for her to remain in the country but also for Luis to hand over the child to Kenia. 

On camera, an ICE agent assaulted the attorneys of the couple by pushing them aggressively away from the door. 

Perhaps some of these agents feel it is their job to act forcefully and aggressively in an effort to detain as many undocumented people as possible. 

But the detainees are humans, just like us. Not aliens. They do not look like a green-headed monster from a science fiction movie. These people have feelings, blood cells, a brain and a heart so they all should be treated with the utmost respect. 

People make mistakes, but the vast majority of individuals that are crossing the border are doing so to discover The American Dream.

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