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Immigrants heading to Catholic Charitiesin McAllen, TX after being released from detention Immigrants heading to Catholic Charitiesin McAllen, TX after being released from detention  (AFP or licensors)

Healthy alternatives needed to house detained immigrants in US

Bishop Daniel Flores speaks about his visit to an immigrant detention center for minors and expresses concern over their supervision.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Larger numbers of immigrants are now being placed in detention camps under President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Some statistics

Immigration rights organization Freedom for Immigrants reports that it costs US taxpayers between $99 and $150.00 per day to detain one person and that 70% of detainees remain for about one month in detention. The top abuses the organization reports are medical, nutritional and legal issues, prolonged detention, and solitary confinement.

At the beginning of July, a team of 6 US Bishops visited one of the facilities for minors. Bishop Daniel Flores, of the border diocese of Brownsville in Texas, spoke with Vatican News about the visit, and other issues concerning the facilities currently being used to detain immigrants awaiting court hearings.

Quality of care

Bishop Flores said that seeing the children was very sad. “They have food, they have a chance to go to school, play soccer. But in the end they are separated, they are uncertain as to what’s going to happen to them or whether they are going to be deported”.

While basic amenities are being provided, Bishop Flores expressed concern that the facilities being used to detain immigrants be sufficiently supervised. “We have to call for vigilance and inspection of these places” to assure the quality of care offered, he said.

Alternatives

He and the US Bishops Conference advocate that the US government find alternatives to the present situation. The US Bishops’ Conference has “made it clear that there are other alternatives that are less expensive”. Using “old military bases, or old camps is not a healthy alternative at all”, he said.

Listen to our interview with Bishop Daniel Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, TX
11 July 2018, 17:17