Clarke wants safe alternatives to immigrant detention centers

Clarke troubled by ‘epidemic of gun violence’
US Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke addresses patrons.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. 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 currently fail to protect the safety of Caribbean and other immigrants.

Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, said there are currently more than 40,000 immigrants in detention, adding 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, stating that ICE currently spends more than US$2 billion annually on detention, “a number expected to increase as more immigrants are detained.”

“We need to explore a community-based approach that honors 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.”

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