Rep. Lamar Smith: Illegal Immigrant Detention Is Like 'Recess'

Thursday, 29 Mar 2012 11:31 AM

By Robert Engler

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith is belittling the Obama administration’s new operating standards at federal immigration detention centers as “hospitality guides for illegal aliens.”
 
“Under this administration, detention looks more like recess,” the Texas Republican said Wednesday. “While funds for American students’ physical education classes are being cut, the new detention standards expand recreation for illegal immigrants.

“The administration’s new detention manual reads more like a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants,” he added, during a committee hearing on the new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidelines.

Committee Republicans mockingly referred to the hearing as “Holiday on ICE,” according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Chronicle that new standards are necessary to protect the health and safety of illegal immigrants, particularly women who have complained of physical abuse and sexual assaults in detention centers.

“But instead of recognizing that the new standards merely serve to correct a past injustice, those on the [political] Right are turning women’s healthcare in the immigration context into the latest culture war,” Melling said.

At the hearing, Smith said the standards were adopted without congressional oversight and pointed to a $32 million, 608-bed detention center in Texas as an example of how the administration is being too accommodating to detainees.

He complained that the new Karnes County facility houses detainees in eight-person suites with private bathrooms and cable TV. He said other amenities include an indoor gym, soccer fields, complimentary Internet services, and “sand and nets for beach volleyball.”

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