WAPO Reports on Conditions for Immigrants in "Ritmo" Federal Detention Center

The Washington Post reports on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency’s holding program for non- Mexican illegal immigrants. A record 26,500 non-Mexican immigrants are currently being detained for weeks and possibly years in the facilities that according to the ACLU, and other groups currently challenging the conditions there, lack adequate clothing, medical services, and legal council. Facilities such as the $65 million “tent city” in Raymondville, Texas, are being expanded as the ICE struggles to find more funding and space to lease in order to meet the influx of new detainees.

The $65 million tent city, built hastily last summer between a federal prison and a county jail, marks both the success and the limits of the government's new policy of holding captured non-Mexicans until they are sent home. Previously, most such detainees were released into the United States before hearings, and a majority simply disappeared.

The new policy has led to a dramatic decline in border crossings by non-Mexicans, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

But civil liberties and immigration law groups allege that out of sight, the system is bursting at the seams. In the Texas facility, they say, illegal immigrants are confined 23 hours a day in windowless tents made of a Kevlar-like material, often with insufficient food, clothing, medical care and access to telephones. Many are transferred from the East Coast, 1,500 miles from relatives and lawyers, virtually cutting off access to counsel.