ICE Policy Seems to Be a Mixed Message Says Miami Immigration Lawyer
Miami, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 29, 2011 – Even though policy reform was announced more than two years ago by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), not much has happened in detention facilities.
“Just about two years ago, there was an announcement that made people sit up and take notice; plans for some serious revamping of ICE’s detention system was in the pipeline to make penitentiaries more like civil detention centers. That made sense given that most of those in the cells were classified as administrative immigration detainees,” remarked Larry S. Rifkin, managing partner at Rikfin & Fox-Isicoff, an immigration law firm with Miami immigration lawyers and Orlando immigration lawyers.
The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm, as it was not a secret that the existing system was brutal, highly inefficient and antiquated. People saw some hope on the horizon. After all, they had heard or read the public report that outlined what was wrong with the system and what needed to be changed. “And, some of those changes have been made,” added Rifkin. “For instance, there is a new Detention Service Manager, a system in place to locate detainees, a new risk assessment tool to bring fairness to the detainment process and beefed up prosecutorial discretion allowed in the field when enforcing immigration laws.”
These changes are welcomed by most. However, there is one glaring problem with the system today – it is as it was before the announcement was made to improve it more than two years ago. In other words, the detention centers have not changed and there are no new standards in place. “Will they ever be put into place?” asked Rifkin.
“Many think nothing else will happen, and point to things such as the risk assessment tool not being utilized until 2012, maybe,” he added. “ICE officers still operate on the assumption if they can arrest and detain someone, they will – period. How is that classified as progress? It is not.” Furthermore, many of those in these prisons are not there because they have committed a crime. They are there because they crossed the border to find a way to support their families.
“It is a sad world when we imprison people for wanting to take care of their family,” insisted Rifkin. “And not only that, there are some detainment centers where detainees are kept in a concrete cell inside a concrete building with no windows and have no access to the outside. Imagine living that way for months, or even years. Could you do that? Not many could, and frankly, this should not be happening. This type of behavior on the part of the government is a human rights infraction.”
Political observers are suggesting the last two years, during which policy was to be changed, were smoke and mirrors and that the administration has no intentions of changing anything. “If you stand back and take a hard look at what has not gone on in regards to immigration reform over the last few years, you might well agree that the words do not match the actions of the government,” Rifkin observed. “It is hard to get on board with a government that, on one hand says it will ease deportation regulations, and on the other, steps up enforcement. Talk about a mixed message.”
For genuine change to happen, it has to start at the top, and that does not look like it will happen anytime soon. At present, there is far too much rhetoric going on to actually get down to business and do something that makes a difference to the immigration system. While some progress has been made, there is still a long road to travel to get to the final destination.
Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, P.A.
1110 Brickell Avenue
Miami, Florida 33131
Toll Free: (866) 681-0202