DHS revising rules on immigration detention; some actions might be OK, but motives questionable
Homeland Security Department officials said on Tuesday they would enact far-reaching reforms for how Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains immigrants. The new system will prioritize the removal of criminal aliens and those slated for deportation from the country and seek alternatives to incarceration for others when appropriate, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The reforms were announced in response to the recently-completed review of the detention system by Dora Schriro, the former director of ICE's Office of Detention Policy and Planning. Schriro left the bureau in September to become the New York City commissioner of corrections.
In addition, ICE will review and centralize management of the more than 300 contracts it has negotiated with other public and private facilities to house detainees, said John Morton, assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
...This fall, ICE will submit to Congress a nationwide implementation plan for creating alternatives to detention where appropriate, such as using monitoring devices on aliens who don't pose a threat to others.
...Napolitano and Morton said they were immediately pursuing plans to develop and implement a risk assessment and custody classification system that would help officials determine the appropriate facilities for detainees, with the idea that converted hotels and other residential facilities may be used to house noncriminal, nonviolent detainees.
To a certain extent, reforms like these might be a good thing, and not just because they'd give the American Civil Liberties Union and other illegal immigration-supporting groups one less place to try to hang their hats. However, considering that the Obama administration has as much use for our immigration laws as the Bush administration did, the specifics of each change will have to be closely monitored to make sure they aren't simply trying to enable illegal immigration.
UPDATE: The DHS press release is at dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1254839781410.shtm