Immigration prisons routinely violate federal laws such as the Prison Rape Elimination Act. The Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for detaining non-citizens, regularly violates their civil and constitutional rights in immigration prisons, known as “detention centers,” according to a fact-finding study by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent bipartisan independent federal agency. The Commission was created by Congress during President Eisenhower’s administration, as part of the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Since then, Congress has continually reauthorized the Commission and its mission, which is to enforce federal civil rights laws.
On September 17, 2015 the Commission reported that DHS’s immigration prisons violate federal laws by locking-up non-citizens, including women and children, for longer than federal law allows. The detention centers violate federal laws by not providing adequate medical care. The imprisoned non-citizens do not get any or enough access to lawyers or to a religious pastor or minister. The immigration detention centers violate federal laws designed to protect prisoners from sexual assault.
Immigrants in detention include men, women and children, undocumented as well as those with visas and green cards. Many are torture survivors, asylum seekers, pregnant women, and seriously ill people without proper medication or care. Being in violation of immigration laws is not a crime. It is a civil violation. The law permits most non-citizens a process to see whether they can lawfully stay in the U.S.
According to the Detention Watch Network keeping a non-citizen locked-up for an immigration violation costs about $164.00 per person per day. There are cheaper alternatives, some costing less than $15.00 per person per day. These community-based programs are effective. The non-imprisoned people overwhelmingly (93%) still show up in the immigration courts.
Due to the inhumane, unsafe and often unlawful detention of non-citizens, as well as the safe. inexpensive and efficient alternatives, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission recommends the immediate release of all family detainees.