NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke has called on the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to consider offering community-based alternatives to overcrowded detention centers, claiming that they fail to protect the safety of Caribbean and other immigrants.
Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, said that there are currently more than 40,000 immigrants in detention and that the number is expected to increase by several thousand in the coming months.
“The current standards for detaining immigrants in the United States are unacceptable, threatening individuals who have been detained with isolation from the families and communities, the risk of physical and emotional harm, and even death,” she said.
Clarke said that at least 164 people have died in detention, “often under conditions in which ICE has failed to provide adequate medical care and respond to emergencies”.
She said these problems are “exacerbated at privately-owned facilities operated by for-profit companies,” which, according to the United States Department of Justice, are “unsecure and unsafe for detainees”.
In addition, Clarke said the costs are “enormous” and that ICE spends more than two billion US dollars annually on detention exercises, “a number expected to increase as more immigrants are detained”.
“We need to explore a community-based approach that honours the personal dignity of individuals who have been detained, allowing them to access their rights under the law,” she said.
“The situation now violates our basic moral commitments,” she added.