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LETTERS

They come to US seeking protection — ICE responds with detention and neglect

Protesters gather at a news conference Sept. 15 in Atlanta decrying conditions at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga.
Protesters gather at a news conference Sept. 15 in Atlanta decrying conditions at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga.Jeff Amy/Associated Press

I applaud the editorial board for shining a light on the dangers of housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees in for-profit facilities (“Neglect has become far too common at ICE detention centers,” Oct. 18).

I have been a volunteer immigration attorney in a private prison similar to the ones described in your editorial. Upon entering one of these facilities, I was shocked to see the prison’s stock price from the previous day displayed prominently on a whiteboard. By displaying the stock price, the prison reminds all visitors upon entry that incarcerating vulnerable populations is a business that is traded on an international market.

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These ICE detention centers are filled with asylum seekers, often women and children who have fled atrocities and endured trauma in their home countries. The private prison industry profits substantially from detaining these immigrants, and then lobbies Congress so that it can detain more asylum seekers and make more money. It is a vicious cycle.

I was pleased to see the editorial recognize that many of these immigrants could and should benefit from supervised release. Detaining immigrants in private prisons is both needless and inhumane, since the vast majority appear for all future immigration court hearings and pose no danger to anyone. They have come to the United States to seek our government’s protection. Our government should not respond to their pleas with detention in a private prison system with well-documented cases of medical neglect.

Eliana C. Nader

Chair, New England chapter

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Boston